Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg, Europa League: Where to Watch Live, Preview and Teams
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 21, 2013 5:49 PM EST
Liverpool face Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield, in the second leg of a UEFA Europa League knock-out tie. Luciano Spalletti's men carry a massive 2-0 advantage, from the first leg, to Merseyside.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 8.05pm GMT. Live coverage will be available on ITV1 and ITV1 HD.
Liverpool need to score thrice, while ensuring they shut out the Russian champions, to progress to the next round. And given the Reds have already been eliminated from the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup (the Premier League title was never a serious option), the prospect of silverware this season now hangs by a slender thread.
Brendan Rodgers will have a measure of confidence coming into this game, after a strong 5-0 home win against Swansea City (in a league match) over the weekend. However, any joy at that result must be tempered by the fact Michael Laudrup left several key players out of the Swans' line-up, in preparation of the Welsh club's Capital One Cup final against Bradford City.
And when scrutinised carefully, Liverpool's form is discouraging. They have only one win in the last five games... a run that includes a FA Cup defeat to Oldham Athletic and 10 goals conceded. The good news is their home form is vastly better and, as ex-striker John Aldridge commented, if the English club has any hope of going through, they must play to strong home support.
Liverpool's last few home games, in all competitions, include two 5-0 wins (against Swansea and Norwich City), 4-0 against Fulham and 3-0 against Sunderland. The one blip in recent times was the 0-2 defeat to West Brom.
However, the quality of opposition that now faces them is significantly higher and this is likely to be the first serious test at home in a long time. The last time the Reds played a top-level opponent at home was when Zenit's league rivals, Anzhi Makhachkala, came visiting; Liverpool won 1-0. So that, perhaps, is a good sign.
Domestically, Liverpool are seventh in the Premier League, with 39 points from 27 games.
The Russians are in front thanks to goals from Hulk and Sergey Semak and Spalletti will kick-off looking to ensure they remain in front after the early exchanges. It is Liverpool who need to do all the running in this game, so expect Steven Gerrard and co. to come flying out of the boxes.
Zenit dropped into the Europa League after a third place finish in their Champions League group (they finished behind AC Milan and Malaga) and they will be eager for a strong run in Europe.
Now, what will please Rodgers is the fact that the Russians have not been very convincing away from home. Their three away games in the Champions League ended in two defeats and a win; they beat Milan in the final round of games but it was a dead rubber. And in those three games, they conceded four times, one more than the number Liverpool need to score.
Their domestic away form is excellent, with six wins and two draws in eight games, with 20 goals scored and nine conceded. However, like we stressed with Liverpool, the quality of opposition has not always been as high as it will be at Anfield.
Zenit come into this game with three wins in the last five and they are unbeaten since Belgians Anderlecht beat them 1-0 in the Champions League in early November. It should also be noted Zenit should be physically fresher than their hosts. The Russian league is coming off an extended winter break and Zenit have played only three competitive matches (the 2-0 home win included) since 1 December.
Domestically, Zenit are third in the Russian Premier League with 38 points from 18 games. They trail leaders CSKA Moscow by five points but have a game in hand over the capital club.
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W L L D D
- Last Match: Liverpool 5 - 0 Swansea City
Zenit St Petersburg
- Last Five (all competitions, most recent first): W D W W D
- Last Match: Zenit St Petersburg 2 - 0 Liverpool
January signings Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are ineligible after having appeared for Chelsea and Inter Milan respectively. Centre-back Martin Skrtel will likely replace veteran Jamie Carragher in defence and the Slovakian, a former Zenit player, will be expected to use his experience to keep the visitors at bay. Strikers Fabio Borini and Samed Yesil are ruled out, which leaves Uruguayan Luis Suarez will, once again, be the Reds' only realistic goal threat. Wales midfielder Joe Allen and talented youngster Raheem Sterling will likely be given starts.
Probable Line-Up: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen; Sterling, Suarez, Downing
Spalletti, a former Roma coach, is unlikely to make any changes to the side that beat Liverpool last week, particularly since there are no injuries or suspensions. The only possible alteration is to give last midweek's goal scorer, Semak, a start; the 36-year-old came off the bench in Russia. Aside from that, expect Belgian midfielder Alex Witsel to be the focus of Zenit's attacking moves, with ex-Porto forward Hulk likely to give Agger and Skrtel a torrid evening.
Probable Line-Up: Malafeev; Anyukov, Neto, Hubocan, Lombaerts; Witsel, Danny, Denisov; Shirokov, Kerzhakov, Hulk
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