Zenit v Dortmund: Russians won’t be able to shake off ring-rust

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Zenit St Petersburg prepare to face Borussia Dortmund having not played a competitive match since their 4-1 humbling against Austria Vienna in mid-December.

And that lack of action could prove costly when the Russians return from their winter break with Dortmund appearing to be the value pick to triumph in their Champions League last 16 first-leg tie.

Jurgen Klopp’s outfit are 17/20 to win a third consecutive away game in this season’s competition having already dispatched of both Arsenal and Marseille in the group stage.

Zenit are 16/5 to win the opening leg while the draw is priced at 13/5 in a match where the visitors can take a giant step towards securing a quarter-final berth.

Prior to their surprise 3-0 defeat in Hamburg at the weekend, a scoreline that even triumphant boss Mirko Slomka admitted flattered his side, Die Borussen had won six of their previous seven on the road.

Following that result, manager Klopp questioned the mentality of some of his players and last year’s runners-up are unlikely to take their Russian test so lightly.

Robert Lewandowski and his Gabonese strike partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be key Dortmund players eager to placate their irate coach.

The pair have notched a combined eight goals in their team’s six competitive outings since their own winter hiatus with Lewandowski netting four goals so far in Europe this term.

The Polish international is 9/2 to net first with Ladbrokes while Aubameyang is 5/1 to open proceedings for the fourth time in six starts.

Meanwhile, Russian Premier League leaders Zenit bid for a first win in four Champions League fixtures with their leading marksman in Europe, five-goal man Roman Shirokov, a 10/1 shout to be the initial name on the scoresheet.

Goals may not be in short supply – all bar one of Dortmund’s Group F games went over the 2.5 mark, an eventuality available at 4/6 here.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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