Krasnodar vs Celta Vigo – 18:00 GMT/19:00 CET, Krasnodar Stadium – Krasnodar.
Krasnodar face a race against time to get their main man fit ahead of this crucial Europa League knockout tie against Celta. Having missed the first leg in Galicia, as well as the Russian Football Premier League clash with Lokomotiv Moscow, his participation is very doubtful and, even if he does make the cut, he is not likely to be at full strength and able to last the whole match. One positive, however, is the return of Pavel Mamaev, who came off the bench in Spain for 20 minutes in his first competitive appearance since the winter break.
The critical away goal may well dictate how Igor Shalimov sets his men up for this game as much as the fitness of his key striker. Fenerbahçe were frustrated in the previous round and were shut out despite being in regular form and playing without a break. It showed that the Bulls are more than capable of controlling possession on their own terms. With Viktor Claesson fully adapted already and the emergence of Vyacheslav Podberezkin as an attacking option, not to mention the boldness of the young attacking full back, Cristian Ramírez, there will always be plenty of options for them to increase their goalscoring.
Charles Kaboré missed the thrilling 2-2 draw with league leaders Spartak Moscow ostensibly due to a minor injury, and if he is not selected for the visit of Celta, it will be a massive blow for the Russian hosts. Given that the news was broken by his agent, Dmitry Selyuk, who also revealed a few days later that the club had been prepared to sell him in the winter, it is hard to ascertain exactly why and for how long the midfielder will be unavailable. Both he and Vitali Kaleshin are back from suspensions that kept them from playing the first leg. Ilya Zhigulev – the first academy youth product to progress to Krasnodar’s starting XI – was entrusted with filling in and may be called upon again.
Celta, meanwhile, must travel the significant distance to southern Russia on Monday, having played late on Sunday night against Villareal and having rested John Guidetti, Pione Sisto, Jonny and Andreu Fontas for their domestic fixture. Pablo Hernández and Ruben Blanco are injured, but top goalscorer Iago Aspas is fit and will travel with his teammates. The fact that Eduardo Berizzo is prepared to sideline four first-team players from their league game in preparation for the trip to Krasnodar, shows how significant progression is for them. This is perhaps understandable given their mid-table status—16 points clear of the relegation zone, but ten points off the last Europa League qualification place.
Krasnodar vs Celta Vigo – Players to Look Out For
Krasnodar’s success in progressing will rest heavily on their ability to balance the need to nullify the threat of an away goal and, in particular, their pace out wide and their push for the goal they require. With this in mind, Cristian Ramírez carries a significant responsibility on his shoulders in this game as he is a key component in both areas. He has already proven to be not only a dangerous weapon going forward, but also a crucial element of the 4-3-3 system that allows the likes of Viktor Claesson and Vyacheslav Podberezkin the freedom to move across the frontline more fluidly without needing to provide width. Whether he can combine this effect with shackling the electric wingers of Celta as well is another matter.
Pione Sisto was a constant menace to Krasnodar in the first leg, and will provide a vital counter-attacking outlet for the visitors to relieve pressure when necessary. Although they carry an advantage on aggregate into the leg, it is not likely that they sit back on the slenderest of leads throughout the match, and using the pace of the Danish wide man will be a central part of threatening their opponents’ goal.
Krasnodar vs Celta Vigo – Match Stats
- Krasnodar have never made it to the quarter finals of the Europa League, the stage which marks Celta’s best performance in the competition.
- Celta Vigo have won their last two Europa League away games 2-0, including in the last round, to knock out one of the pre-tournament favourites, Shakhtar Donetsk.
- Krasnodar have only won once in their last seven European matches.
- Celta are unbeaten in five matches against Russian opposition, and have scored twice in their last three European away games.
- Krasnodar have scored once in each of their last five European games.
Futbolgrad Prediction: Krasnodar vs Celta Vigo 1-0
Krasnodar vs Celta Vigo – Possible Lineups
Kritsyuk – Kaleshin, Granqvist, Naldo, Ramírez – Kaboré , Pereyra, Gazinski – Podberezkin, Wanderson, Claesson
Manager: Igor Shalimov
Álvarez – Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Castro – Radoja, Wass, Díaz – Guidetti, Aspas, Sisto
Manager: Eduardo Berizzo