Zenit vs Alkmaar Europa League Preview

Zenit vs Alkmaar Europa League Preview

Zenit vs Alkmaar will come on the back of one of the greatest comeback victories in Zenit’s history when they beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv after going three goals down. Mircea Lucescu’s men will now look to make lighter work of AZ Alkmaar in their second UEFA Europa League Group D match (read Zenit’s full Europa League preview right here).

Zenit and Alkmaar have met only once before, when the two clubs battled to a 1-1 draw in the group stage of the 2007-08 UEFA Cup. Alkmaar are in decent form at the moment, as they are now undefeated in six UEFA games in a row, although their most recent draw came against minnows FC Dundalk from Ireland.

71-year-old Zenit head coach, Mircea Lucescu, is the most experienced coach in the competition, and it is certain that his side will not make the same mistakes at home against Alkmaar as when they played Maccabi almost two weeks ago.

In fact, recent form suggests that Zenit will be one of the main title challengers in the Russian Football Premier League this season, as they convincingly beat Rubin Kazan 4-1 following the match in Israel.

Offensive midfielder, Giuliano, has been especially impressive, as the Brazilian has now scored five goals in six matches for his new club. Indeed, Lucescu seems to have discovered another real gem in the Brazilian winger, who the Romanian coach has converted to an offensive midfielder/false nine (read more about Giuliano here).

Indeed, the Brazilian will be key once again when Zenit plays their first international match of the season at the Petrovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg.

AZ Alkmaar, meanwhile, will be trying to gain at least a point in Russia, as the club’s disappointing draw in Alkmaar has meant that the team could be in for a tough challenge to secure one of the two top positions in Group D.

Alkmaar look in good form in the domestic Eredivisie, but Zenit might very well be one of the potential clubs to challenge for the Europa League title this season and, as such, will be the clear cut favourites to secure three points against their Dutch opposition on Thursday.

Possible Line-ups

Zenit Saint Petersburg:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Lodygin – Zhirkov, Criscito, Novoseltsev, Smolnikov – Witsel, Garcia – Shatov, Giuliano, Kokorin – Dzyuba

Manager: Mircea Lucescu

AZ Alkmaar:

Formation: 4-3-3

Rochet – Haps, Vlaar, van Eijden, Johansson – Luckassen, van Overeem, Rienstra – dos Santos, Friday, Tanković

Manager: John van den Brom

By Manuel Veth –