Chelsea vs Zenit Final – LIVE Reddit Soccer 15/09/2021
Thomas Tuchel’s men are unbeaten in the 2021/22 campaign, winning thrice and drawing once. In their most recent outing against Aston Villa, they reigned supreme once again. They scored twice after the break and we expect them to push the tempo after 45 minutes of action against Zenit St Petersburg.
In two of their last three matches, the total number of goals involving Chelsea has been less than three. We expect them to continue this trend as they start their Champions League defence in earnest. Our expectations are further supported by the Russians recent form, which has seen less than three total goals in three of their last four matches.
The Russian Premier League season started in mid of July and the two months since Zenit has remained untouchable. That run will come to an end against the European champions, who have only conceded once. With Chelsea appearing as the dominant defensive outlet in England and Europe, we expect them to keep a clean sheet at home.
Returning hero Romelu Lukaku’s clinical brace – with a goal at either end of the game – helped ensure victory for Thomas Tuchel’s men, despite the Villans giving goalkeeper Edouard Mendy – who kept an English record nine clean sheets in the Champions League last season – a busy afternoon.
The Blues, therefore, have a record of three wins and a draw so far in the Premier League, and have conceded only once – again demonstrating the steely edge they have developed since Tuchel took to the dugout in January.
Upon his arrival, Chelsea went 14 games unbeaten – the longest initial run without defeat by any manager in the club’s history – and the 2020 runner-up with Paris St. Germain eventually went one better with the London club last season – helping them lift their second Champions League trophy.
Now in pursuit of a third, Chelsea have repatriated one of the world’s top attacking talents, as Lukaku comes back to England as the club’s record signing. Already, Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer – who last term netted 24 times as Inter won their first Scudetto for a decade – looks set to add the required finishing touch to a star-studded squad.
Assembled at extraordinary expense, the capital club’s playing staff features Jorginho – recently named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year – N’Golo Kante (UEFA’s top midfielder) and Mendy (Goalkeeper of the Year), while Tuchel claimed the coach’s prize.
Starting as strong favourites to progress, then, they will be the first Chelsea side to tackle one of Russia’s grandest clubs this week, as they have never met Zenit before.
Head coach Sergei Semak – a five-time national champion as a player – had previously enjoyed spells as an assistant with both Zenit and Russia before taking the top job at modest Ufa; leading them to a club record sixth-placed top-flight finish in 2018 and then becoming Zenit boss in May of that year. He has since led his current club to three successive titles and is now targeting elusive European progress as well.
The former midfielder has a tall task ahead of him, though, as the Russian champions must not only compete with Chelsea for a berth in the last 16, but also Italian giants Juventus and Swedish champions Malmo.
Of course, the ultimate dream would be leading his side out at Zenit’s imposing Saint Petersburg Arena headquarters in the Champions League final next spring. Also the venue for seven games at Euro 2020, their home ground is a stronghold for the Zenitchiki, but last year they were beaten by Borussia Dortmund, Lazio and Club Brugge away from home, as they finished last in their group.
This season, they have added a further dash of Brazilian flair to a growing collection, as Claudinho – fresh from winning Olympic gold with Brazil – recently signed up from Brasileiro upstarts RB Bragantino. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder finished as joint-top scorer in Brazil’s Serie A last term, with 18 league goals, and could play an integral role as Zenit seek to survive the group stage for the first time since 2015.