Malaga entertain Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday night in the Champions League in a tie of very similar tales (7.45pm BST).
Both clubs have received enormous funding with the view to launching attacks on the established hierarchy in European football. However, as has been well-documented this summer, Malaga have fallen on difficult times with their owner cutting off the supply of funding to the team.
The Andalusian club have been through a difficult summer, losing star midfielder Santi Cazorla to Arsenal and striker Salomon Rondon, who coincidently was lost to Russian side Rubin.
The Spanish side’s financial worries have been eased via the sales of both players, and midfielder Isco was able to stay at Malaga through the choice of the club.
But despite that bleak picture for Malaga, they have started the campaign exceptionally well. They currently sit second in the La Liga table with 10 points from a possible 12. Only Barcelona have a better league record than Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Malaga stormed through the Champions League qualifying round by defeating a very tricky opponent in Panathinaikos 2-0 on aggregate and further helping their cause on the financial front with the cash injection from the Champions League group stages.
We’re seeing more of the younger players and even fringe players from last season, as Manuel Pellegrini has had to make do with very little activity in the transfer market.
16-year old Fabrice Olinga got off to a dream start in his debut for the club, scoring the only goal in the opening weekend’s win at Celta Vigo. Young forward Juanmi is another to bag himself a goal this season after failing to establish himself in the side last season.
A notable arrival at the club, however, is Javier Saviola, who arrived from Benfica in the summer. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid striker is sure to feature in this game against Zenit and already has a goal to his name with his new club.
Roque Santa Cruz has also joined on loan from Manchester City, but is yet to make any great impact at the club.
Zenit St Petersburg are the heavyweights in this tie. The Russian club really flexed their financial muscle in the recent transfer market by landing Hulk from Porto and Axel Witsel from Benfica for a combined fee of over 80 million euros. Added to the quality they already have in the side, they should be ones to watch in the competition.
However, the team really didn’t look too promising in their last league game against Terek. Zenit lost 2-0 at home to the Chechen club and both goals came via some very dodgy defending on the part of the home team.
Terek’s opener saw Zenit’s defence all over the place, as the visitors were gifted time and space in the penalty area to land the opener. The second goal was equally poor on the part of Zenit. Certainly not a good precursor to a Champions League tie.
Both Hulk and Axel Witsel came on in the second half but it was the Brazilian who looked most promising. The former Porto forward came very close through a free kick and was unlucky on another occasion not to convert.
On the injury front for Zenit, Italian defender Domenico Criscito, Sergei Samak, Danny and Axel Witsel are all out for this game.
Malaga v Zenit Betting Tips Verdict
Zenit have lost two of their last three league games and look to struggle against decent opposition:
- For that, I’m backing Malaga to get the home win @ biggest odds of 8/5 with Betfred, BetVictor, Ladbrokes or Coral.
- Back Malaga’s Alarcon Isco to score at anytime @ best-priced odds of 4/1 with Bet365.