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Zenit vs Liverpool Preview, Team News, Likley Line-ups & Predicted Score
Liverpool are in Russia to take on Zenit St Petersburg in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday evening (kick off 5pm GMT).
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has named a strong 20-man squad for the game with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Glen Johnson, Pepe Reina, Lucas Leiva and Daniel Agger all making the trip, despite being rested during previous rounds of the competition.
The Merseysiders will be looking to bounce back having slumped to a disappointing 2-0 loss to West Brom on Monday night at Anfield, with Steven Gerrard’s penalty miss with the score still at 0-0 proving vital.
This will be the first time Liverpool have played Zenit in Europe and the Russian’s may be slightly rusty having not played a competitive game since December due to the winter break in the Russian League. They have however tried to maintain match sharpness by playing a number of friendlies in recent weeks.
Zenit have a formidable recent record in Europe having lost only one of their last 19 games, so will be looking to extend that record and take a vital lead heading into the second leg at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers is expected to name a near full-strength side after taking all his star names on the long trip to Russia. Captain Steven Gerrard is likely to be given a rare Europa League start along with Luis Suarez, who will start up front.
Martin Skrtel may return to the starling line-up to face his former side after being benched for the last three games. Jamie Carragher is likely to make way with Skrtel expected to renew his partnership with Agger at the back.
The only notable names not available are January signings Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho who are both ineligible having already played in Europe for Chelsea and Inter Milan this season.
Zenit’s only major injury worry is over Russia international Aleksandr Kerzhakov who faces a race against time to be fit to start in attack.
Russia is never an easy place for Premier League sides to visit and big-spending Zenit are going to be tough opposition this evening. I think Liverpool would take a draw before the game and I can see them getting one, as well as a vital away goal. Zenit 1-1 Liverpool
What would your starting line-up be and what’s your score prediction? Get involved in the comments section below.