- Zenit St. Petersburg kicked off its Champions League campaign with 1-1 draw in Lyon
- Benfica suffered a 2-1 home loss to Red Bull Leipzig in Matchday 1
- In six previous encounters between the two teams, each has won three and they’ve scored exactly seven goals each
After splitting the first six encounters evenly between the two sides, the seventh matchup could well prove crucial in determining who gets out of Champions League Group G.
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Benfica UCL Matchday 2 Odds
|Zenit St. Petersburg||-0.5 (+130)||+125||O 2.5 (-115)|
|Benfica||+0.5 (-155)||+220||U 2.5 (-105)|
*Odds taken on 09/30/19
The two teams have met fairly frequently in the Champions League, with six contests over the years. The most recent matchup was during the 2015-16 round-of-16, when Benfica won both home and away to advance 3-1 on aggregate. The Lisbon club also knocked Zenit out at the same stage of the 2011-12 UCL.
However, Zenit claimed some success of their own with home-and-away wins in the group stages of the 2014-15 competition.
High Hopes at Home
While Zenit’s 1-1 draw on Matchday 1 in Lyon dropped them to 1-4-1 in their last six European matches, their home form has been largely irrepressible. Before last year’s 3-1 loss at home to Villarreal in the last 16 of the Europa League, Zenit had won their previous six European encounters at Gazprom Arena, scoring 18 goals and conceding just four in the process.
The team has also won 11 of its last 13 games in Europe, with just one draw and one loss spoiling that record, with Zenit’s overall Champions League home group-stage record standing at seven wins, eight draws and just three defeats.
Zenit has an almost-unblemished record against Portuguese visitors, with Benfica’s 2016 knockout-round win at Gazprom the lone black mark on an eight-game stretch that includes five wins and two draws.
In addition, Zenit has an almost-unblemished record against Portuguese visitors, with Benfica’s 2016 knockout-round win at Gazprom the lone black mark on an eight-game stretch that includes five wins and two draws.
Defending Champions Trailing in Early Going
After winning their sixth Russian league title last season – and first since 2015 – Zenit find themselves third in the league after 11 rounds of the 2019-20 Russian season.
However, they are getting some stellar play defensively, particularly from goalkeeper Andrei Lunev, who had posted six clean sheets and conceded just four goals before Zenit lost 1-0 to Lokomotive Moscow last weekend.
❗️ Grand question, guys!
Which goalkeeper will show a better performance this Saturday? 🧤
— Russian Premier Liga (@premierliga_en) September 26, 2019
Benfica’s Struggles in UCL
A loss to Leipzig on Matchday 1 dropped Benfica to 11 defeats, two wins and one draw in their last 14 Champions Leagues games. And the team hasn’t exactly travelled well, either, having won just three of their last 13 European fixtures outside of Portugal.
Equally worrisome for coach Bruno Lage will be his team’s offensive struggles of late. Normally a free-scoring side, Benfica have netted just four times in their last four games, and against a defensively competent team such as Zenit, that could cause problems.
13 – SL Benfica have scored 4+ goals in 13 different Primeira Liga games since Bruno Lage took over in January 2019, more than any other team in that period. Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/rjWBBQ1YCg
— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) August 12, 2019
Russia No Happy Hunting Ground
Despite winning once and drawing twice in their first three visits to Russia, Benfica has avoided defeat just once in their last six visits, with their most recent trip, to CSKA Moscow in the 2017-18 group stage, ending in a 2-0 defeat.
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Benfica UCL 2019-20 Statistics
In the UCL group stage for the 15th time, Benfica have qualified for the knockout stages only five times, and will be well aware that a second straight defeat will make a sixth trip to the sharp end of the competition an unlikely proposition.
Pick: Zenit St. Petersburg (+125)
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