Zenit to pay the price for Torino tactics


Zenit fought tooth and nail to qualify for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals at the expense of Torino but now it lines up against Sevilla without several naughty boys.

Seven Zenit players received cautions in its 0-1 loss at Torino in the UEFA Europa League last 16 – the Russian Premier League team held on to win 1-2 on aggregate – and four of them are suspended for Thursday’s last-eight first leg at Sevilla. Domenico Criscito, Danny, Hulk and Igor Smolnikov are unavailable to Zenit, which means that Andre Villas-Boas will have to remodel both his team’s defence and, arguably more significantly, his team’s attack.

Bet365 and Boylesports are offering odds of -149  about a Sevilla win in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg and that rates as the best wager on Thursday’s card. Zenit prides itself on its counter-attacking ability but, while it has carried all before it in the Russian Premier League, it has struggled on the European stage versus the cream of the continent, particularly away from home. Zenit has won at Benfica and PSV across the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League tournaments but it has failed to net a goal in losing at Leverkusen, Monaco and Torino. Without both Danny and Hulk one thinks that Zenit may struggle to get on the scoresheet against a Sevilla side strong at home.

UEFA Europa League holder Sevilla has won each of its last seven home games in the competition and its Spanish Primera Division home record of 11 wins, five draws and zero losses means that it is the only team in the world’s top domestic league yet to lose in front of its own supporters. Sevilla coach Unai Emery is set to have a full squad from which to choose – it is best that it does not tell Villas-Boas that.

Wolfsburg has done one numerous favours and one is not jumping of its bandwagon ahead of its UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg at home to Napoli on Thursday.

One thinks that Wolfsburg is trading at more than fair odds of -120  with Bet365 and Ladbrokes to make it 10 home wins in a row across all competitions. Wolfsburg should be able to field its strongest possible side and it entertains a Napoli team that has fallen away in the Italian Serie A title race and not faced a really stiff UEFA Europa League text in making its way through to the last eight. Wolfsburg is at least a couple of levels above Dinamo Moskva, Sparta Praha, Trabzonspor and Young Boys, plus Napoli has lost each of its last four Italian Serie A road matches, only one of which was versus a side positioned in the top six on the ladder.

Finally, one wrote some relatively unkind words about Club Brugge in the lead up to the last UEFA Europa League round so one hopes that the Belgian Pro League leader does not hold a grudge because one is tipping it to get the better of Dnipro in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

The UEFA Europa League last-16 aggregate score of 5-2 over Besiktas flattered Club Brugge but it showed a great deal of guts over those two legs. On Thursday Club Brugge hosts a Dnipro team that has beaten just Qarabag in its seven UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League away assignments and come up short in its Ukrainian Premier League dates with Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, regardless of venue.

Club Brugge has won 21 and drawn seven of its last 28 home games across all competitions so, while one thinks that it is a long shot to win the UEFA Europa League, one believes that it is overpriced at odds of +100  with Coral to beat Dnipro in Belgium and a take a first-leg lead to Ukraine.

Tips Summary

Seville to beat Zenith
16th April 20:05 GMT
Odds:  -149
Where to Bet: Bet365, Boylesports

Wolfsburg to beat Napoli
16th April 20:05 GMT
Odds:  -120
Where to Bet: Bet365, Ladbrokes

Club Brugge to beat Dnipro
16th April 20:05 GMT
Odds:  +100
Where to Bet: Coral

Club Brugge
Domenico Criscito
Igor Smolnikov
UEFA Europa League
Unai Emery

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