Liverpool will be without cup-tied Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho for their clash with Zenit St Petersburg, but they have no further injuries to worry about. The Russian champions have not played a competitive match since their 1-1 draw with Anzhi Makhachkala on December 10, but have since played a number of friendlies to maintain some sort of match fitness.
Brendan Rodgers has included teenagers Suso and Conor Coady in the provisional 20-man squad to cover for Sturridge and Coutinho, who have already featured in Europe for Chelsea and Inter Milan respectively. The Reds boss has expressed his concern for the reaction his players will receive at the Stadion Petrovski, with a group of Zenit fans calling for non-white and gay players to be excluded from their side in December.
The two clubs have never met before in European competition, but both have a successful history with the UEFA Cup –the Europa League’s predecessor – with Liverpool holding a record-equalling three trophies while Zenit won the cup in 2008/09. The last time the Russian side met an English club, they emerged 2-1 winners against Manchester United in the 2008 UEFA Super Cup.
Liverpool have already met a Premier-Liga side this season, winning 1-0 at home and losing 1-0 away against Anzhi Makhachkala in the group stage.
Zenit have lost only one of their last 19 European home games, losing 3-2 to AC Milan in the Champions League group stage in the autumn.
The Russian side finished third in Group C to move into the Europa League last 32.
Liverpool signed centre-back Martin Skrtel from Zenit in 2008, with the Slovakian tasting success in Russia winning the league title in 2007.
Liverpool have reached the round of 32 for the third time since the introduction of the group stage and have yet to fall at this hurdle.
Zenit St Petersburg to win: 2.54
Liverpool to win: 3.15
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