FC Zenit St. Petesburg will play against Anderlecht in 1/16 playoff stage of the UEFA Europe League at the Petrovsky stadium tomorrow after having lost first game 0-2 in Brussels a week ago. Russian sport media reported that the club’s management expressed dissatisfaction with the result and may take any measures in case of Zenit leaving the competition.
Zenit have signed some players during the transfer window in between two parts of the Russian football premier league (RFPL), including Brazil’s Hernani Azevedo and Serbia’s Branislav Ivanovic who used to be a star at FC Chelsea. Observers said that Zenit’s coach Mircea Lucescu has finally significantly amplified all the lines, the need he had been talking about since his start at Zenit last year, and that the team now would be a real contender to win both the RFPL’s championship and the Europe League this season.
Well, such analysis and predictions have strong foundations to be based on. Zenit won 5 of 6 games in the group stage of the Europe League with the highest goals scoring and performing at a very high level in terms of ball possession, coordination, goal attempts and goals themselves. In the RFPL, Zenit are just five points behind the leader, Spartak Moscow, and again with the highest goals scored. Spartak were beaten 4-2 by Zenit in St. Petersburg in late last year.
But some media say things seem to be not that good for Lucescu and the club. As Life.ru reported the signing up of new players sometimes were made without any approval by the coach. For example, the transfer of Branislav Ivanovic was initiated by the owner of Chelsea, Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich, who wanted to see the star playing instead of polishing the Chelsea’s bench. It’s a Russian management style: one big boss asks another big boss (all important decisions in Zenit are being made by Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller) for a favour, the other big boss agrees and then employees have to somehow implement the decision by bosses even if affects the business negatively.
Interesting that it’s namely Ivanovic who missed Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong when the Ghana’s international scored the first goal in the first game. Life.ru says the only of the new players which Lucescu really wanted was Hernani who performed well in the Brussels game a week ago.
Another media outlet, Sport Day After Day website, reported that a meeting of Zenit’s top-management, Lucescu and players was held upon the defeat from Anderlecht. Alexander Dyukov, club’s president, was reported to have said that the Europe League is a top priority tournament for the club and demanded the team advance to the next stage by any means. If the team fails, «any consequences may follow», reported the website.
What the consequences might it be like? Well, media have reported today there are rumours circulating about a possible replace of Lucescu by Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp.
Please, note, the game will be held at the Petrovsky stadium.
Address: Petrovsky island, 2
Subway station: Sportivnaya
Time: 21.00 (local time).
The newly-built Krestovsky stadium is now being tested and will see first matches in April.
The weather forecasts say the temperature will be -4, -6 Celsius, rather cold for an African superstriker! Why not a chance for Zenit?