Zenit vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv will kick off at 17:00 CET/16:00 GMT on Thursday at the Petrovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. When the two sides met in September, Zenit pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the competition, as they overcame a three-goal deficit in the last 15 minutes of the game.
Maccabi will now travel to Russia looking to avenge the result against the Russian club. Zenit meanwhile will try to keep a perfect record as they are one of only three sides—the other two are Shakhtar and Schalke—to have won all four group stage matches this season.
In fact Zenit have already confirmed their spot in the last 32 of the competition, and as Futbolgrad predicted Zenit have won their group. Maccabi meanwhile want to keep their round of 32 hopes alive by taking all three points in Russia, as they share second place with the Irish side Dundalk FC—both are on four points.
Perhaps Maccabi’s biggest advantage will be the fact that Zenit Saint Petersburg have already qualified and won the group. Mircea Lucescu therefore might use the last two matches in the group stage to field more experimental teams in an attempt to give some of his fringe players some playing time.
Furthermore, Zenit will be facing a tough test on Sunday, as they travel to face Krasnodar away. Saint Petersburg is currently second, three points behind league leaders Spartak Moscow, in the Russian Football Premier League, and with the league intensifying before the long winter break Lucescu may very well rest some players on Thursday.
But for Maccabi, who are currently second in their domestic league the Ligat Haal, Zenit might not be the biggest obstacle, as they travel from sunny Tel-Aviv, current temperature around 20 degrees Celsius, to snowy cold Saint Petersburg, where the thermometer is expected to drop below 0 degrees on Thursday in what is one of Europe’s coldest stadiums at this time of the year.
Players to look out for:
Zenit’s Giuliano has contributed to ten goals, five assists and five goals, in four Europa League matches this season. The attacking midfielder has also been on form in the Russian Football Premier League as he scored six goals in 12 matches. Also look out for Aleksandr Kokorin, who has scored three goals in four Europa League matches this season, as the right-winger has revived his career under Lucescu.
Zenit vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv Match Facts
- Zenit, Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk are the only sides who have won all four of their group stage games. Zenit, alongside Shakhtar, are also the top scoring side in the competition with 13 goals.
- Maccabi have taken four points from their last two fixtures in the Europa League.
- Maccabi and Gabala are the only teams, who have qualified for the group stage after starting the Europa League campaign in the first qualifying round.
- Zenit have progressed in three of their four previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns. In 2010-11 they won all six group games and remain on target to do so again in 2016-17.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Zenit vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv 3-1
Kerzhakov – Chernov, Lombaerts, Novoseltsev, Yusupov – Mauricio, Garcia – Mak, Giuliano, Kokorin – Dzyuba
Manager: Mircea Lucescu
Rajković – Eli Dasa, Eitan Tibi, Ben Haim – Medunjanin, Alberman, Micha, Rikan, Igiebor – Ben Haim, Kjartansson
Manager: Shota Arveladze