Benfica vs Zenit St PetersburgUEFA Champions League, KO: 20:00 Dec 10, 2019, Estadio da Luz
ZENIT ST PETERSBURG haven't won on the road in the Champions League since 2015 but have the perfect chance to end that run against Benfica.
The Russians head into the final Group G game level on points with Lyon and three points behind RB Leipzig. A win in Lisbon would take them through provided Lyon don't beat Leipzig in the other group game.
If that happened, Lyon would be the group winners and Leipzig would pip Zenit to second, having beaten the Russians twice in the group. But a draw would be enough to take Zenit through if the French side fail to win.
It looked like Benfica would take this tightest of groups right to the wire when they raced 2-0 ahead in Leipzig last time out.
I tipped the Germans to win that night but they needed two goals from Emil Forsberg in stoppage time to salvage a point, with the last-gasp penalty saving one of my bets that night.
Forsberg's spot-kick ended Benfica's hopes of qualifying, although they still have a faint chance of claiming third place and a spot in the Europa League.
But they would need to beat Zenit by a scoreline higher than 3-1 to have a better record than the Russians and pip them to third. If Lyon lose to Leipzig then any kind of victory for Benfica would be enough to secure that Europa League place.
How the bookies view it
Zenit's poor away form in the Champions League makes them outsiders for the win they need to guarantee a place in the last 16.
Head to head
It ended 3-1 to Zenit when these sides faced off in St Petersburg on Matchday Two (below) with the Russians racing into a 3-0 lead before Raul de Tomas netted a late consolation.
They had only faced off six other times before that clash, with three victories apiece. Zenit's record at the Estadio da Luz isn't too bad, winning once and losing the other two.
Zenit have won five games in a row since crashing 2-0 at home to Leipzig in the Champions League. They head into the clash with Benfica in high spirits after beating Dynamo Moscow 3-0 on Friday night.
The Eagles are also soaring, unbeaten in six since losing 3-1 to Lyon on Matchday Four. They claimed an impressive 4-1 win on the road at Boavista in their last game.
Only Rafa Silva is definitely ruled out for Benfica while David Tavares and Andre Almeida are doubts. Swiss striker Haris Seferovic could start after making his return from injury off the bench against Boavista.
Zenit have Malcolm, Emanuel Mammana, Andrei Lunev and Yuri Zhirkov sidelined while Danila Prokhin and Yaroslav Rakits'kyy are suspended.
Thriller or chiller?
Benfica need to go for it to guarantee that Europa League slot so I'm expecting this game to be quite open. Over 3.5 goals has come up in three of their last four games and a repeat here is 9/4 with BetVictor.
Both teams to score is 7/10 with William Hill but that's a bit too short so try a goal in each half instead at 3/4 with Coral.
Players to watch
I flagged up Pizzi as Benfica's best hope against Leipzig last time out and he delivered with a goal. He now has 12 goals for the season and looks good value at 21/10 with Paddy Power for a goal here.
It's hard to ignore Zenit man mountain Artem Dzyuba for a goal and he's 15/8 at Betfair for anytime scorer here. But I'm looking elsewhere for a Russian goal and Sardar Azmoun, who has nine goals this term, appeals at 23/10 with Ladbrokes.
Anything else catch the eye?
Ladbrokes price both teams to score, over 2.5 goals and either team to win at 6/4 and that looks a decent option. A card for veteran Russian stopper Branislav Ivanovic also looks good value at 4/1 with Unibet.
This UEFA Champions League match between Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg will be played on Dec 10, 2019 and kick off at 20:00