Our football match prediction:
Thanks to a 1-1 draw with Rosenborg Zenit booked their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League, but they have yet to cement top position in Group L. The Zenitchiki are seen as hot favourites to win Thursday’s football match against Vardar and we predict that they will go all guns blazing at the Macedonian champions. The Russian side aim to keep their 100% record intact at their Stadion Krestovskyi and they are likely to give fans yet another reason for celebration. Coach Roberto Mancini is likely to mix the squad against Vardar, but regardless of which players will be deployed in the starting line-up, home win should be considered. The Macedonians suffered a loss in each of their four group games and we do not believe that the rock-bottom team are capable of shocking Zenit in Sankt Petersburg. When the two teams met in Skopje in their opener Zenit rolled over Vardar 5-0.
Highligted Player (Artem Dzyuba):
Over the years Artem Dzyuba has established himself as one of the best players in the Russian Premier League. The 196-cm-tall attacker began his senior career at Spartak Moscow and after ending his loan spells with Tom Tomsk and Rostov, he moved to Zenit St. Petersburg in 2015. Artem Dzyuba scored 15 goals for the Zenitchiki in the 2015/2016 Russian Premier League campaign, while providing nine assists for his teammates. The Russian forward was not as successful in the 2016/2017 season as he scored 13 goals in 26 appearances for Roberto Mancini’s troops, while having six assists. Dzyuba made his debut for the Russia national football team in November 2011 in a friendly game against Greece, but he did not represent Russia at the Euro 2012 finals. The Zenit striker scored his first goal for the Russian national team on September 8, 2014 in a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein. Artem Dzyuba was born in Moscow (Soviet Union) on August 22, 1988 and he is a product of Spartak Moscow football school.
Highlighted Team (Vardar):
Vardar are a Macedonian football club which surprisingly qualified for the group stages of the Europa League for the 2017/2018 season. The Crveno-Crni (The Red & Blacks) did well to upset star-studded Fenerbahce in the play-off round and that is considered the club’s biggest success. Vardar, on the other hand, are the dominant force in Macedonian First League and they won their 10th domestic trophy in 2017. The Crveno-Crni were part of the Yugoslav First League in the past and they won the league in 1987. Pelister are regarded as Vardar’s fiercest rivals and there have always been fireworks in clashes between the two teams. Based in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, Vardar play their home games at Phillip II Arena and the capacity of the venue is 33.460. Vardar play their home games in black shirts with red strips and black shorts. The club’s away colours are white and red. Darko Pancev, who won the European Cup with Crvena Zvezda in 1991, is the most notable footballer who played for Vardar. The Macedonian attacker scored 84 goals in 151 appearances in the league for the Crveno-Crni.