Bnei Yehuda v Zenit St. Petersburg Betting Tips: Mancini’s men to have too much for Israeli Cup winners
Football writer and Russian football expert Thomas Giles previews the upcoming Europa League qualifier between Bnei Yehuda and Zenit St. Petersburg.
This Europa League match looks rather one-sided as Russian giants Zenit St. Petersburg travel to Israeli Cup winners Bnei Yehuda.
Bnei Yehuda are a relatively small club, even within Israeli football, and last season’s cup win was their first piece of silverware since 1997. Additionally, they were actually involved in the Israeli Premier League relegation playoffs last season, eventually finishing 11th – just four points above the dropzone. Having said that, they clearly have something about them as they managed to come through their last qualifying round against former Slovak champions AS Trencin.
Yossi Abukasis’ men struggled for goals last season with just 26 registered in their 33 league matches. However, they did have one of the more solid backlines in comparison to the other teams involved in the relegation playoffs with 39 goals conceded. Furthermore, they did manage to keep a clean sheet in their home tie against Trencin in that aforementioned previous Europa qualifying round.
In fact, European home form has been pretty good for HaArayot in recent years with eight Europa League wins in 11 matches at the Hamoshava Stadium since August 2006. However, all of their opponents during this time have been of much lower stature than Zenit St. Petersburg.
Zenit have started well under new manager Roberto Mancini with two wins from their first two Russian Premier League matches. The former Manchester City manager has not only been tasked with bringing the Russian title back to St. Petersburg, but also with improving the club’s rather lukewarm European performances since that UEFA Cup win in 2008.
Although the Blue, White and Navys have one of the most frightening forward lines in Russia – as demonstrated by the fact they have scored an average of two goals per game so far this season – a lack of depth in defence has been a real concern at the club for the best part of two years. This is something that Mancini has so far failed to sort in this transfer window and will need to do so quickly if he is to have any success this season.
In terms of away form, Zenit have been brilliant in the last few months, winning all five of their last competitive outings on the road. Unfortunately though, Europe is a different story with two losses in their last two and no clean sheets on their European travels since February 2015.
Despite the fact that Bnei have a relatively good defensive record, I think Zenit will be too hot to handle for them. As mentioned above, Mancini has a fantastic forward line at his disposal and I expect them to punish the Israelis in this first leg. Zenit to Score Over 2.5 Goals is priced at 7/5.
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