Match: Benfica – Zenit Preview, Predictions and Betting Tips
Date: February 16, Tuesday, 2016
Start time: 19:45 GMT
Here it is again time for the Champions League. After over two months pause, sixteen teams renewed the battle who will be the new European club champion. On the first day of the second round of the competition Benfica and Zenit face each other. The match is on Tuesday, February 15, starting at 19:45 and will be held at “Estádio da Luz” in Lisbon.
Benfica lost the derby with Porto over the weekend in Portuguese “Primeira Liga” and allowed Sporting Lisbon to pull three points atop the standings. The defeat of the “dragons” put an end to their impressive run of eleven straight wins in all competitions, but against the Russian champion “The Eagles” will try to get back to winning ways.
Rui Vitoria’s team finished second in their group in the Champions League after failing to fight off competition from Atletico Madrid in the first place. In the three matches home team recorded two draws and one defeat after outplaying Astana (2:0) and Galatasaray (2:1), but in the last match was defeated by the Spaniards to 1:2.
The last time Benfica qualified for UEFA Champions League knockout phase was in the 2011/12 season. Ironically then again their rival was Zenit as “The Eagles” went ahead after defeat 2:3 in St. Petersburg and the victory of the second leg in Lisbon with 2:0. On 1/4-finals they was eliminated by Chelsea after two losses. This season before the team is a wonderful opportunity to sneak among the best eight in Europe, but it needed a good result in the first match against Russian champion.
While the hosts are in optimal condition, the team of Zenit has not played an official match since early December when slid 1:2 Gent in the last round of group stage of the Champions League. A few days earlier, the team did make it 1:1 with Ufa in the Russian championship and round earlier been humiliated during his visit to Terek 1:4.
In January transfer window team from St. Petersburg made two transfer blow after reinforce with striker Aleksandr Kokorin and midfielder Yuri Zhirkov from Dynamo (Moscow). Zenit warmed to Champions League participation in the friendly tournament “Atlantic Cup”. Pitartsi beat Brondby (2:0) and Swedish champion Norrköping (3:2), and in dispute trophy defeated Örebro after 1:1 in regular time and 4:3 on penalties.
Before the upcoming match I think Benfica is better prepared team after being in peak season, while Zenith expects renewal of the Premier League. “The Reds” have home adventage, but I think that investment in Zenit and the good work of André Villas-Boas should not be underestimated. Expect equal match in the first game without hasty moves on both sides and a little hits of “Estádio da Luz” on Tuesday night.