Zenit vs. Chelsea Champions League Odds, Picks, Preview: Back Russian Side Against Christian Pulisic, Blues
Mike Kireev/NurPhoto via Getty Images. Pictured: Wilmar Barrios of Zenit Saint Petersburg.
- Zenit Saint Petersburg hosts powerful Chelsea in Wednesday's crucial Champions League action.
- The Russian side is looking to spoil Christian Pulisic and the Blues' chances of winning their group.
- Avery Zimmerman breaks down the matchup below and details why he thinks the Russian outfit can get a result.
Zenit vs. Chelsea Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-135 / +105)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 12:45 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Paramount+ | fuboTV|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
In each team’s final match of the Champions League group stage, Chelsea will travel to Russia to take on Zenit Saint Petersburg in a Wednesday showdown.
The meeting serves as a dead rubber for both squads as their European futures have already been decided. Chelsea thrashed Juventus in the fifth matchweek to secure the top spot in the group, while Zenit will be headed to the Europa League as the third-placed team in the quartet.
Having drawn two of its last three games, Zenit would probably like to find a positive result as it nears a significant break in matches for the club. Chelsea won’t be experiencing a break any time soon, however, as the reigning champion will play seven matches throughout the rest of the month.
Here’s how I’m evaluating the early-morning contest.
Stable Zenit Lacking Quality in Group Stage
The Russian side has been consistent throughout the first five matches of the competition, but that’s resulted in the team failing to qualify for the knockout round.
Zenit wasn’t able to pick up positive results in games against Juventus and Chelsea, but it was against Malmö — the worst side in the group. Overall, Zenit has amassed a 1.15 expected goals per game total, but it was balanced by a 1.17 xGA/contest number. It’s simple to understand why Zenit is in the position that it is.
In standard conditions, this line would be far more heavily slanted toward the English club. However, given Chelsea has secured its qualification as a seeded team in the knockout stage draw and Zenit has a lengthy break in play upcoming, the situation is a bit kinder toward the latter.
Chelsea Dealing With Expected Regression
The Blues are as deserving as anyone of their position atop Group H in the UCL, but the same couldn’t be said for the Premier League-leading spot the held before the previous weekend.
Chelsea was lagging behind Manchester City and Liverpool in terms of xG and xGA and it has caught up to the London-based squad in recent weeks. A draw with Manchester United was followed up with a loss to West Ham United, and Chelsea is now third in the league.
For manager Thomas Tuchel, he can approach the regression in one of two ways in this contest. He can opt to try and correct the dip in form with a strong lineup that has a chance to find its cohesion ahead of the intense EPL schedule that awaits or he can opt to rest a number of starters in an attempt to freshen up legs.
It’s hard to know how he’ll approach the tie as teams in similar situations have taken different approaches thus far, but expect at least a little bit of rotation due to the sheer amount of matches Chelsea has to deal with ahead.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In these types of situations, I’m far more inclined to give in to contextual factors than standard metrics of evaluation such as form and talent.
The reality is that Chelsea doesn’t need anything from this match and Zenit will be far more likely to give an intense performance to its fans. As we’ve already seen with teams like City and Liverpool, drops in intensity are natural without solid stakes and I believe it’s fair to expect something similar from the Blues.
Look for Zenit to take advantage of being at home in its last Champions League fixture of the year, in addition to Chelsea’s limited intensity in a meaningless contest for the group winner.
Pick: Zenit +1 (-105)