This week Ladbrokes is putting it all on red – the red of Mother Russia that is with the Champions League duo of CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg well-placed to upset the odds and seal qualification to the knockout stages of the competition.
Maybe it’s the bookmaker’s long-standing affinity with the colour of the former Soviet Republic, perhaps it’s down to the presence of Hulk in the Zenit starting line-up or it may possibly be Manchester City’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but for whatever reason we like this bet.
And with the pair offering odds of 44/1 to both qualify in a delightful midweek double, we reckon it’s definitely one you should consider slipping a quid or two on – here’s why.
Arguably the more likely of the two Russian sides to progress, Zenit were held to a 0-0 draw when they met the Principality Club at the Stadion Petrovskij on Matchday Two and while a trip to the Stade Louis II represents a major test of their credentials, there is reason to be optimistic.
Zenit already saw off Benfica at the Estadio do Sport – becoming the first team to win against the Portuguese giants in seven Champions League ties at the ground – and with Monaco losing to the Lisbon side earlier in the groups and struggling domestically, AVB’s team could spring a surprise.
Now before you scoff at the notion of the Russian side progressing ahead of AS Roma and Manchester City, it’s worth considering the context Wednesday’s matches are being played in.
With Bayern qualified as group winners, Pep Guardiola is likely to field a weakened team for the visit of CSKA, who came close to getting a result the last time these two met, going down 1-0 to the Bavarians in Russia.
AS Roma, meanwhile, are enduring something of a blip in Serie A after drawing 2-2 with Sassuolo and with Manchester City set to be without key man Sergio Aguero, another stalemate could be on the cards for two teams who previously played out a 1-1 result at the Etihad.
Combine that with a surprise CSKA win and two of the tournaments big boys could be heading home early.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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