Thursday, April 3, 2008

UEFA Cup: Zenit @ Bayer Leverkusen

Quarter-finals: first leg
FC Zenit St Petersburg @ Bayer 04 Leverkusen

reviewing updates - nothing major reported.

Recent Form
While both clubs have stumbled of late each of these situations were against top quality opponents (i.e. Leverkusen vs. Bayern & Zenit vs. FC Rubin Kazan) and will be at their best for this match.

Areas to Watch
As Zenit heads to the east bank of the Rhein to face Bayer Leverkusen many will consider them as a "giant-killer" for their disposition of Marseille but in-fact they are part of one of the worlds most powerful Football federation that because of poor media coverage is rarely seen. Next season that will begin to change as the Russian Premier League is awarded more spots to the Champions League and UEFA Cup. Given this, I discount their domestic record as it is one of the most competitive in the sport and few "soft" matches. Bayer Leverkusen is tactically brilliant at times and will need to prey upon the recent weaknesses in the Zenit defence (due to the departure of Martin Skrtel and Erik Hagen) and mark Pavel Pogrebniak and Andrei Arshavin closely if they are to succeed. Critical to Bayer Leverkusen advancing, is eliminating a away-goal. As a side note Zenit is likely the most daunting opponent for Bayern if they face each other in the next round. Tactically this will be the match to watch with Zenit ending the all-Germany semi-final idea.