The champions of Russia host the champions of Belgium, as FC Zenit take on Club Brugge on Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League in St. Peterburg.
Club Brugge, who had some terrific moments in the group stages of the Champions League last season, like the 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, will no doubt be delighted to be back in the competition, after they were crowned the winners of the Belgian Pro League last season.
After nine league games this season, Club Brugge are the league leaders, level on points with Charleroi.
They drew 1-1 with Standard Liege in the weekend, with an injury-time penalty canceling out Krepin Diatta’s opener for Club Brugge.
Like Club Brugge, FC Zenit are also top of their league only on goal difference. Spartak Moscow are on the same number of points right now as the defending Russian champions, who beat PFC Sochi 3-1 on Saturday.
FC Zenit vs Club Brugge Head-to-Head
FC Zenit and Club Brugge have never faced each other in a competitive game before, with their only meeting coming in a pre-season friendly in 2014.
Both these sides aren’t exactly fancied to make a knockouts, so an early impression that they are no pretenders is essential.
FC Zenit form guide: W-D-W-D-W
Club Brugge form guide: D-W-W-W-W
FC Zenit vs Club Brugge Team News
For FC Zenit, Malcom missed the game against PFC Sochi on Saturday with an injury, and is not yet clear to play this game. He is expected to miss out. FC Zenit don’t have other unavailabilities to contend with.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, on Sunday, confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19 and begun his period of self-isolation. Odilon Kossounou and Michael Krmencik also tested positive for the virus. In addition, Matej Mitrovic is a long-term absentee for Club Brugge as well.
Injured: Simon Mignolet, Odilon Kossounou, Michael Krmencik, Matej Mitrovic
FC Zenit vs Club Brugge Predicted XI
FC Zenit (4-4-2): Mikhail Kerzhakov; Vyacheslav Karavayev, Dejan Lovren, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Douglas Santos; Aleksandr Yerokhin, Danil Krugovoy, Wilmar Barrios, Sebastian Driussi, Sardar Azmoun, Daler Kuzyayev
Club Brugge (4-3-3): Ethan Horvath; Clinton Mata, Brandon Mechele, Simon Deli, Eduardo Sobol; Mats Rits, Ruud Vormer; Hans Vanaken; Krepin Diatta, David Okereke, Emmanuel Dennis
FC Zenit vs Club Brugge Prediction
Even though Club Brugge are in great form in the Belgian Pro League, they come into this game as the underdogs against a strong FC Zenit team, who have an impeccable home record in recent times.
That is why we are predicting a narrow win for the Russian champions in this game.
Prediction: FC Zenit 2-1 Club Brugge