Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Against all odds, Villarreal recorded a thrilling 3-1 win over Zenit in Sankt-Petersburg and moved one step closer to making it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. The Yellow Submarine have been struggling in La Liga this season and, no doubt, they want to go all the way in the second best European club competition. Villarreal are tough to beat at home and we are positive that they are going to advance to the quarter-finals. The Russian side, on the other hand, need to overcome a two-goal deficit if they are to book their place in the next round, but that is easier said than done. The Spaniards are likely to adopt a cautious approach in Thursday’s football match and we believe that they are going to play out a draw with the Zenitchiki at their Estadio de la Ceramica.
Highlighted Player (Ramiro Funes Mori):
Argentina isn’t known to produce great talents in defence but Ramiro Jose Funes Mori is an exception. The 25-year-old started his football career in the United States with FC Dallas. He won an MLS talent competition to get into their youth team but it was less than a year before he moved back to Argentina.
Mori joined River Plate as a youth player in 2008 and progressed to their senior team within three years. The young defender is nothing short of a club legend at River Plate having won six titles with the team. More than the titles and his performances, it was his performances in important games that is still vividly remembered.
His iconic goal against Boca Juniors is still part of the folklore. Mori joined English Premier League club Everton in 2015 and soon established himself as a regular there. Mori represented Argentina seven times and yet to score in national colors.
Highlighted Team (Zenit Petersburg):
Zenit Saint Petersburg are a Russian football club that was founded by workers of Leningrad Metal Plant in 1925. Over the years the Zenitchiki have established themselves as one of the dominant forces in Russian football, but they won their first domestic trophy in 1984.
Zenit have been impressive in the national championship in the 21st century, winning four league titles, while clinching two Russian Cups (2010, 2016). The Zenitchiki are a regular participant of the Champions League group stages and in 2008 they did well to win the UEFA Cup. The Russian outfit defeated Glasgow Rangers (2-0) in the title game, with Denisov and Zyryanov both finding the net in the final of the competition.
Zenit play their home games at Krestovsky Stadium, the venue that was opened in 2016. Gazprom are the club’s main sponsors and the colour of their home shirts is white-sky blue. Brazilian ace Hulk is probably the most notable footballer who played for Zenit.