X

Monday 20
August

Celtic

Celtic assistant boss Chris Davies: Europa League opponents Zenit ‘a top team’

13th February 2018, 15:23

Chris Davies reckons Celtic will be facing a Champions League-quality outfit when they kick off their Europa League campaign against Zenit St Petersburg.

The Hoops have dropped down into UEFA's second tier after finishing third in their Champions League group.

But assistant boss Davies expects the standard to be just as tough as they take on Roberto Mancini's Russian outfit at Parkhead in Thursday's first leg.

Zenit topped their Europa League section with five wins and a draw, and lead the tournament's scoring charts.

"What's important to acknowledge is the level of the opponent we're about to face," Brendan Rodgers' right-hand man said.

"Having analysed them and watched them for a few months now, we know they are individually and collectively a top team - a Champions League-level team with quality.

"We have to recognise that, respect that and be prepared for that.

"With the quality they have, they're good in possession but also good on the counter-attack and can be a threat on set-plays. Top teams can do all three of those and they have shown they're just that in the games I've seen.

"They were the top scorers in the Europa League with 17 goals in six games, so they're scoring nearly three goals a game and conceding less than one on average. These numbers tell you a story as well.

"We respect them but we also see it as an opportunity and we're going to hopefully take a lot of positivity and energy into the game and see what happens."

AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli are just some of the big names among the 32 remaining Europa League contenders, but Davies believes Zenit can also rightly claim to be one of the favourites to reach May's final in Lyon.

He said: "They're one of the better teams left in the tournament. There are some really good teams still involved and they're right up there.

"We've got a plan for the match and, if we can execute it, we'll give ourselves a chance."

While Mancini's side cruised in the round of 32, their domestic form has not been so impressive, with a run of just two wins in their last nine games costing Zenit top spot in the Russian Premier League.

They are now only just returning to competitive action after a near three-month winter break.

But Davies believes Zenit - who have spent the last couple of weeks at a training camp in Turkey - will be fully prepared for action in Glasgow.

He said: "We've had an insight into that side of it in that when we were at Liverpool, we played them at the same round five years ago.

"We drew with them 3-3 over the two legs but went out on away goals.

"There had been a little bit of talk pre-match about their conditioning after their winter break - but they were in very good condition.

"This time, they've had a couple of training camps, time to build up their fitness and plenty of games, so I personally expect them to be physically at a level to compete."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

More Celtic

Celtic

Marseille move mooted for Celtic striker

17th August 2018, 10:46

Celtic are bracing themselves for a £13.5m Marseille bid for Moussa Dembele after the club's Champions League exit this week.

Celtic

Celtic have paid the price - Rodgers

16th August 2018, 12:47

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers says the club's failure to strengthen in the summer is partly to blame for their Champions League exit.

Celtic

Boyata absence irks Rodgers

14th August 2018, 14:30

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers says he's disappointed defender Dedryck Boyata hasn't travelled with the rest of the squad to Greece.

Celtic

Rodgers boosted by Dembele fitness

13th August 2018, 17:23

Moussa Dembele has handed Celtic a huge Champions League boost by returning to contention for Tuesday's second leg in Athens.

Celtic

Rodgers adds left-back to cover Tierney

10th August 2018, 15:16

Emilio Izaguirre admits he is delighted to be "back home" after signing a one-year deal to resume his Celtic career.

Celtic

Celtic can get a result - Rodgers

9th August 2018, 17:00

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers says his team can overcome AEK Athens in the Champions League after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Recent Sport Headlines

Leicester City

Marseille to move on after marvellous Mendy showing

20th August 2018, 08:58

Nampalys Mendy's impressive display for Leicester City against Wolves appears to have ended Marseille's chances of a bargain swoop.

Inter Milan

Spalletti blasts Inter display

20th August 2018, 06:24

Inter Milan boss Luciano Spalletti is refusing to panic after seeing his side slip to defeat against Sassuolo.

Bayern Munich

PSG 50-50 to land Bavarian

20th August 2018, 06:13

Bayern Munich say there is a '50-50' chance of Jerome Boateng leaving the club as Paris Saint-Germain line up a swoop.

Manchester City

Guardiola praises incredible Aguero

20th August 2018, 05:58

Pep Guardiola described Sergio Aguero as 'incredible' after he bagged a hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Huddersfield.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Seagulls boss hails United win

20th August 2018, 05:43

Chris Hughton was delighted to put last week's Watford defeat behind them as Brighton beat Manchester United 3-2.

Newcastle United

Dummett reveals Wales hopes

20th August 2018, 05:38

Newcastle defender Paul Dummett says he is ready to rejoin the Wales set-up if he is handed a fresh chance by Ryan Giggs.

Leicester City

Pereira hails Foxes win

20th August 2018, 05:24

Ricardo Pereira impressed in Leicester's win over Wolves and says it is crucial to get the first three points on the board.

Arsenal

Emery sets sights on Hammers

20th August 2018, 05:16

Unai Emery has quickly turned his attention to the home game with West Ham as he looks for his first points with Arsenal.