The Scottish champions are braced for a tough encounter with a side that have been regularly dubbed a team of ‘Champions League quality’
Celtic will aim to keep their continental hopes alive when they welcome Zenit to Glasgow for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
Brendan Rodgers’ side dropped into Europe’s second-tier tournament after finishing third in their Champions League group and they have been handed a tough draw against the Russian outfit.
Zenit, meanwhile, comfortably topped their Europa League group ahead of Real Sociedad and Rosenborg, coming through the six games unbeaten.
With the second leg in Saint Petersburg set for the following week, the Hoops will be keen to make their home advantage count on Thursday.
|Game||Celtic vs Zenit|
|Date||Thursday, February 15|
|Time||20:05 GMT / 15:05 ET|
TV Channel & Live Stream
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on TV on BT Sport 2 and it can be streamed live online using the BT Sport app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 2||BT Sport app|
In the United States (US), ESPN 3 is showing the game on television and it can be watched live online using WatchESPN or Fox Soccer Match Pass.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|ESPN 3||WatchESPN / Fox Soccer Match Pass|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Gordon, De Vries, Bain|
|Defenders||Hendry, Simunovic, Gamboa, Boyata, Lustig, Ajer|
|Midfielders||Bitton, Roberts, Brown, Sinclair, Armstrong, Rogic, Ntcham, McGregor, Forrest, Musonda, Eboue|
|Forwards||Griffiths, Dembele, Edouard|
Celtic are without a number of players for the visit of Zenit, with goalkeeper Craig Gordon joining Patrick Roberts, Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes on the sidelines.
Leigh Griffiths is also struggling for fitness with a calf injury, while Dedryk Boyata is out, meaning there will be changes in defence.
Potential Celtic starting XI: De Vries; Simunovic, Ajer, Lustig, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham, Forrest, Sinclair, Musonda; Dembele.
|Goalkeepers||Lodygin, Lunev, M. Kerzhakov, Baburin, Kizeev|
|Defenders||Anyukov, Terentyev, Criscito, Smolnikov, Mevlja, Mammana, Ivanovic, Skrobotov, Bogaev|
|Midfielders||Paredes, Kranevitter, Rigoni, Kuzyaev, Nobao, Shatov, Zhirkov, Erokhin|
|Forwards||Poloz, Kokorin, Driussy, Zabolotny, Krapukhin|
Branislav Ivanovic is Roberto Mancini’s only real concern ahead of the game as he recovers from an eye injury, meaning that there may be rotation in defence.
Potential Zenit starting XI: Lodygin; Anyukov, Criscito, Smolnikov, Mevlja; Kranevitter, Noboa, Erokhin, Poloz, Rigoni; Kokorin.
Betting & Match Odds
Celtic have home advantage and are considered slight favourites at 6/4 by dabblebet. Zenit are priced at 13/8 and a draw is available at 23/10.
Ever since the draw in December, Celtic’s opponents Zenit have been described as a team of ‘Champions League quality’ and with good reason.
Managed by former Inter and Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, the Russian giants boast considerable talent within their ranks and they are certainly one of the most difficult opponents the Bhoys could have been drawn against.
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As well as the free-scoring Emiliano Rigoni and Aleksandar Kokorin, Mancini can call upon the skilful composure of former Atletico Madrid midfielder Matias Kranevitter and ex-Roma star Leandro Paredes, as well as the pedigree of Champions League and Europa League-winner Branislav Ivanovic.
While Celtic are the team that dropped down from the Champions League and indeed the marginal favourites according to some bookmakers, their squad pales in significance – both in terms of ability and experience – so it will take a monumental effort for them to get something out of the tie.
With that in mind, they will be relying heavily on the fervour of the Celtic Park faithful to help them seize the initiative and keep the tie alive heading into the return leg in Russia.