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Zenit struggled in the early stages of its first competitive game in 10 weeks but it is a good bet to post a UEFA Europa League home victory over Anderlecht on Thursday.
Frank Acheampong scored twice for Anderlecht in the first 31 minutes of last week’s UEFA Europa League game in Belgium as the Purple and Whites made the most of Zenit’s inactivity, at least in a competitive sense. Zenit had not played a meaningful match since the UEFA Europa League group stage concluded and even that was a dead rubber because the Blue, White and Sky Blues had reached the next phase already.
However, even though Zenit was rusty, the Blue, White and Sky Blues managed one more effort on target than Anderlecht and they dominated the corner-kick count 8-3. Factor in the impressive home numbers of Zenit and one thinks that the UEFA Europa League tie is far from over. Zenit is 15-3-0 at home across all competitions since losing 1-2 to Benfica in March 2016 and that game was heading for a Blue, White and Sky Blues success until the 85th minute when the Eagles equalised before their 90th-minute match-stealing goal.
Anderlecht is level on point with Club Brugge at the top of the Belgium First Division A ladder but, while it boasts the tournament’s best away record of 8-3-3, it has lost each of its two road games against teams in the leading four also. Anderlecht ended up in the UEFA Europa League because it lost 2-4 on aggregate to Zenit’s Russian Premier League rival, Rostov, and the Purple and Whites failed to post an away victory over either Saint-Etienne or Mainz during the group stage. Zenit is available at odds of -167 with many bookmakers, including BoyleSports and William Hill, to beat Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League second-leg match and that is one’s headline pick.
Fiorentina has the upper hand over Monchengladbach in their UEFA Europa League tie and one thinks that the Purples will go on with the job when the second leg occurs on Thursday.
Filippo Bernardeschi’s fine free kick was the difference between Fiorentina and Monchengladbach when they met in Germany last week, a UEFA Europa League road game that looked like a tricky one for the Purples in light of their poor away results versus quality opposition – they have lost each of their six Italian Serie A trips to sides in the top 11. Fiorentina’s Italian Serie A home form makes for much better reading, though, with the Purples posting six wins and six draws from 12 unbeaten matches, including victories over Juventus and Roma. Fiorentina rates as a decent wager at odds of +145 with Bet365 to do the UEFA Europa League double over a Monchengladbach team that is very ordinary.
Monchengladbach is 11th on the German Bundesliga ladder and the Foals are 0-3-5 in their eight divisional games against sides ranked seventh or higher. The days of Monchengladbach challenging for UEFA Champions League berths are long gone.
Finally, Copenhagen is worth backing at odds of -130 with 32Red, 888Sport and Marathonbet, to defeat Ludogorets for the second time in the space of a week. Copenhagen beat Ludogorets 2-1 in Bulgaria and the Danish Superliga leader ought to fancy its chance of completing a quick-fire double.
Copenhagen played six UEFA Champions League home matches prior to being relegated to the UEFA Europa League and the Lions did not concede a goal in any of those games versus Crusaders, Astra, APOEL, Club Brugge, Leicester and Porto. Ludogorets took part in the UEFA Champions League group stage as well, drawing 1-1 at Basel and losing 0-6 at Arsenal before getting a 2-2 pity draw at Paris Saint-Germain when PSG did not put in a shift.
Zenit to beat Anderlecht
Thursday 23rd February, 18:00 GMT
Fiorentina to beat Monchengladbach
Thursday 23rd February, 20:05 GMT
Copenhagen to beat Ludogorets
Thursday 23rd February, 20:05 GMT
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