Borussia Dortmund will be looking to secure first position in Group F when they travel to Russia to face Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
BVB, who have already qualified for the last-16 stage of the competition, are currently top of the section, one point clear of second-placed Lazio, while Zenit will finish bottom regardless of what happens on the final matchday, having only picked up one point from five matches.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a hugely disappointing group-stage campaign for Zenit, who have drawn one and lost four of their five matches to sit bottom of the section on a single point.
The Russian outfit lost back-to-back games against Club Brugge and Dortmund before picking up a welcome point at home to Lazio at the start of November. The Sky Blues could not build on the draw, though, losing their next two against Lazio and Brugge to end their hopes of finishing either in the top two or third.
Sergei Semak’s side will enter Tuesday’s match off the back of a positive result, though, having beaten Ural 5-1 in the Russian Premier League to leave themselves at the top of the table.
Zenit actually reached the last-16 stage of the Champions League in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2015-16 but have lost 11 of their last 16 European matches, while they have been beaten in six of their 10 previous home games with German opposition, including a 4-2 loss to Dortmund in the 2013-14 round of 16.
Dortmund, as mentioned, are already through to the round of 16 and will ensure that they claim first position in the section with a win over Zenit on Tuesday night.
Lucien Favre‘s side would also take first with a draw if Lazio also draw with Brugge, while they could also lose and still finish at the summit but that scenario relies on Lazio losing their final game.
BVB have won three, drawn one and lost one of their five Group F matches and played out a 1-1 draw with Lazio on home soil last week. The Bundesliga outfit were impressive in successive 3-0 wins over Brugge, but it would be fair to say that they are yet to show their best form in the competition this season.
Dortmund, who are third in the Bundesliga following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, have won seven of their last 12 European matches during a strong run of form.
The German side have actually now reached the last-16 stage of this competition in seven of their last eight participations, meanwhile, and are certainly capable of being a threat in the latter stages of the tournament.
Zenit St Petersburg Champions League form: LLLDLL
Zenit St Petersburg form (all competitions): WDLDLW
Borussia Dortmund Champions League form: LLWWWD
Borussia Dortmund form (all competitions): LWWLDD
Zenit’s squad is in good shape at the moment in terms of injuries, and there are not expected to be too many surprise calls from head coach Semak on Tuesday night.
Sardar Azmoun has been in excellent form for the Russian giants this season, scoring nine times in 17 appearances in all competitions, and the 25-year-old should again lead the line.
There is also expected to be another start for former Barcelona attacker Malcom, while fellow South Americans Douglas Santos and Wilmar Barrios should also be in the XI.
Dortmund’s injury list is fairly substantial at the moment, with Manuel Akanji, Raphael Guerreiro, Thomas Delaney, Thomas Meunier, Reinier Jesus and Marcel Schmelzer all on the sidelines.
The visitors will also again be without key striker Erling Braut Haaland due to a hamstring injury, meaning that Marco Reus should be given the nod through the middle.
Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna are expected to join Reus in attack, potentially leaving Thorgan Hazard on the bench, while Axel Witsel could be joined in midfield by Mahmoud Dahoud.
Zenit St Petersburg possible starting lineup:
Kerzhakov; Sutormin, Prokhin, Rakitskiy, Santos; Kuzyaev, Barrios, Erokhin; Malcom, Azmoun, Driussi
🚨 BVB STARTING XI VS. ZENIT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/bILcw5oLYN
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) December 8, 2020
Borussia Dortmund possible starting lineup:
Burki; Piszczek, Hummels, Zagadou; Morey, Dahoud, Witsel, Schulz; Reyna, Reus, Sancho
We say: Zenit St Petersburg 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Zenit, despite their poor Champions League campaign, are certainly capable of making it difficult for a Dortmund side missing a number of key players. The Bundesliga outfit still have a lot of quality, though, and we fancy the visitors to pick up a narrow win in Russia
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