Zenit vs Real Betis predictions and match preview for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League fixture. Read on for the head-to-head, team news and predicted lineups as Betis travel to Russia.
|Thursday 17th February 2022
|20:45 (local time)
|UEFA Europa League
Zenit vs Real Betis Preview
Real Betis begin their Europa League knockout stage campaign in Russia on Thursday night. Their strong form over the winter months suggest Betis may just be real contenders in this competition, although Manuel Pellegrini may have some difficult decisions to make regarding which competitions to target between now and May.
The Seville club find themselves competing on three fronts with a top four finish in LaLiga starting to look a real possibility. Their 4-2 win at Levante at the weekend leaves them in 3rd place with a 4 point advantage on both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid beneath them. The form of the likes of Nabil Fekir, who was outstanding again in that game, suggests they have what it takes to continue racking up the points in LaLiga but they must balance that alongside their European and Copa del Rey ambitions.
The group stage of this competition showcased the good and at times the bad of Betis. They were free-scoring with 12 goals across their 6 group games as they pipped Celtic to 2nd place in Group G. However a heavy 4-0 loss in Leverkusen showcased vulnerabilities that aren’t too often exploited by teams at home and it’ll be interesting to see how they go against European opposition here.
On paper, it’s not a terrible draw for Betis and they certainly could have wound up facing a stronger side. However Zenit are the Russian league leaders having lost just 2 of their 18 league games this term. They are currently towards the end of the winter break so haven’t played a league game since way back in December but have warmed up for this tie with three unbeaten matches in the Atlantic Cup against Danish opposition.
Zenit are in the Europa League as a result of finishing 3rd in their Champions League group. Paired with Chelsea, Juventus and Malmo, that’s not too surprising an outcome in truth, however their ability to take just 1 point from 4 games against the big boys suggests they may fall just short against the stronger teams in this competition.
Head to Head
- This will be the first meeting.
Stanislav Kritsyuk is injured for Zenit while former Liverpool man Dejan Lovren is a doubt.
Nabil Fekir is banned for Betis while Martín Montoya and Claudio Bravo are sidelined through injury. Sergio Canales is a doubt with some rotation likely from their last league game too.
Zenit vs Real Betis Predictions
Score Prediction: Zenit 1-0 Real Betis
This could be a difficult evening for Betis. They are missing some of their best players and could potentially be without both Nabil Fekir and Sergio Canales which would leave them short on creativity. They are in the midst of a really busy period in their season too following Copa del Rey Semi-Final action last week and you wonder if, after a long flight to Russia, they may not quite be at their best which could give Zenit the chance to clinch a 1st Leg advantage.
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