Mancini Confident of Zenit Improvement

6 months ago

Roberto Mancini is adamant Zenit St Petersburg will put in a better showing when they host Celtic in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 clash on Thursday.

The Russian outfit suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Scotland as the lack of competitive action for the visitors in recent weeks appeared to have a real impact on their performance.

Zenit have only played club friendlies over the past two months and, although they were picking up victories, those encounters are no substitute for the high-pressure situations.

Mancini’s men now face a battle to make the last-16 stage but they will be buoyed by their impressive home form in the competition this season.

The four-time Russian Premier League champions won their three group games at Krestovsky Stadium, beating Real Sociedad, Rosenborg and Vardar, and the manager expects his side to rediscover this type of form.

“I am confident that we can improve tomorrow,” Mancini said. “All the players are ready. It is not important to change the players, it is important to change the result.

“I am confident. We need to play a good game, concentrate, without pressure, this is important.”

However, Celtic will be no pushovers and their nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership has allowed full focus to be put on the game in Russia.

Head coach Brendan Rodgers will be looking to the trio of Scott Sinclair, Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele to fire his side to glory, with 22 goals scored between them three this season.

But the away form of the Bhoys does not make for good reading and they have not won away in the Europa League since August 2011 – a winless run that stands at 10 matches.

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