Zenit v Ufa | Saturday 26th September 2020, 14:30
Zenit have firmly established themselves as the top dogs in Russia football on a count of winning the Premier League for two seasons running. They are already on course to make that a hat-trick of successes considering they currently lead the table, albeit only on goal difference ahead of Spartak Moscow eight games into the campaign.
They will at least be confident of maintaining and possibly extending their stay at the summit when they welcome Ufa to the Gazprom Arena, although one win in four for Zenit resembles something of a slump given their very high standards at this level. It is perhaps no surprise that this run has coincided with an injury sustained by tricky winger Sebastian Driussi, and it remains to be seen when he can return.
Nevertheless, history is probably against Ufa causing a shock this weekend considering they have never won away in Saint Petersburg, although they did beat Zenit at home last year.
Ufa currently find themselves in relegation trouble as things stand, with a lack of goals most definitely their biggest problem. They’ve just the one win in eight, which was a 3-2 away success at Arsenal Tula in August. The problem is they’ve only scored five goals all season, and three of those came in the same game. Four of five goals scored came in away matches, but they’re clearly struggling in the final third.
In their defensive third, Zenit are doing a pretty good job as they’ve only shipped five goals all season. It is a slight concern that they’ve only kept three clean sheets, which indicates that they are prone to conceding one goal in a match, but they’re clearly sharp enough at the back to ensure their dangerous attack, which has scored the most goals in the division, can go on and do their thing.
Another worry for Ufa in addition to the lack of goals overall is that they don’t score against this opposition either. They’ve failed to score in five of the last eight head-to-head meetings, too. They’ve not scored in four of their last five league encounters, and Vadim Evseev’s side travel to a Zenit team who last dropped points in a home league match in March. They’re unbeaten at home in all competitions since RB Leipzig defeated them in a UEFA Champions League clash last November.
Zenit are understandable short odds to win here, so this is a bet-builder sort of match. The play will be Zenit win ‘to nil’ and Under 5 Goals at 1/1 (Bet365). We’ve touched upon Ufa’s issues in front of goals, whilst both teams combined are yet to see one of their games feature over five goals, and only two of 16 even had over four.
Ried v Salzburg | Saturday 26th September 2020, 16:00
Our second play on Saturday comes from the top-flight of Austrian football and normally when it comes to football in Austria then Salzburg aren’t ever too far away from the conversation.
I won’t bore you with the facts and figures regarding their dominance in this league, but they’re clearly the best team and look set to continuing being so for several years to come. The challenge is if the rest can catch up, and promoted Ried are looking to be one of those.
Ried won the Second League title last season to regain their spot in the Bundesliga and so far they have a won one, lost won record to their name. They opened with a dramatic 3-2 home win over Tirol thanks to two goals in the final ten minutes, whilst they were edged out 2-1 away to Austria Vienna last time out on the road, with both goals conceded coming from the penalty spot. A bigger challenge awaits them when Salzburg come to town.
Salzburg are the only side with a 100% winning record two games into the season and they managed to score seven goals in the process. They managed to beat Altach 4-1 at home last time out despite being reduced to 10 men as early as the sixth minute, and in midweek their began their quest to qualify for the Champions League group stages with a 2-1 away victory at Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first leg of their play-off.
The second leg is to come next week, so this trip to Ried is sandwiched in-between, so I wonder if Salzburg could have their minds elsewhere.
I am pretty certain we are going to see a degree of rotation from manager Jesse Marsch given how important it is for them to indeed qualify for the group phase of Europe’s biggest cup competition. They had a tough game is Israel on Tuesday when having to come from behind to secure a ‘half time’ lead in the tie, so you get the impression this sort of game against Ried is one they can do without.
Even with rotation they should be getting the job done given their squad depth and resources compared to the likes of Reid, but 1/6 on an away win I don’t think takes all these factors into consideration.
Four games into Salzburg’s season in all competitions and three of them saw both teams score. The other was a 10-0 OFB Cup win over lowly Bregenz! Ried also have a 100% BTTS record three matches into their campaign overall, and this has also paid out in four of the last five H2H meetings played at Ried’s Keine Sorgen Arena.
Salzburg will dominate the ball but they do get tested more so on the road and given how much they put the ball at risk it is clear that they still do give away a few chances. Plus with rotation expected, I feel they may be a little disrupted, certainly in the early stages before their likely quality sees them over the line later on.
This looks another bet-builder opportunity and Both Teams To Score and Over 2 Goals at 23/20 (Bet365) is a bet I really, really like the look of. This will have been the first fixture Ried looked for after winning promotion and this is their big day. It is just another game for Salzburg and now they’re having to juggle European fixtures I think this won’t be as routine an afternoon as they’d have hoped.