OK, so you might be wondering why a die-hard Tottenham fan from England has decided to write about a team from Russia who, before last year, were unknown to just about every football fan in this country. It’s a fair question really as, no, I’m not from Russia, no, I’ve never been to Russia and, no, I don’t even like Vodka. So why have I started a blog for the Russian champions? Well, read on………………………………………..
(Official) Kings of Europe
Yes, thats right, Zenit are, officialy, the best team in Europe after defeating English and Champions league Champions Manchester United 2-1 in the UEFA Super Cup a couple of weeks ago.
True, there will always be questions about how serious the top teams in Europe take this competition. In the past Manchester United and other Champions League giants have fielded weaker teams in the Cup and have thus lost to their UEFA cup winning counterparts. But just look at the team Fergie put out; Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Anderson, Scholes, Nani, Rooney, Tevez. Barring an injured Christiano Ronaldo, that’s probably Manchester United’s strongest team and, for the first half an hour at least, Man Utd were played off the park. Zenit’s first goal was worked wonderfuly, Pogrebniak flicked the ball over a perplexed Van Der Sar. A training field goal if I’ve ever seen one.
The second goal however, was a direct opposite of the first. Zenit forward Danny struck the United defence like a bullet, scattering Man Utd defenders out of his way, before finishing with a cool shot; 2-0 Zenit. The Champions League winners had no reply.
After that second goal Man Utd decided to wake up; they stormed the Zenit goal and eventually Vidic found the net for the Red Devils, alas, it was too little too late, Zenit’s early domination had won them the match.
Despite the rather predictable mumblings of ‘0h well it’s only the Mickey Mouse Cup’ rumbling around Old Trafford, you could tell that a number of United fan’s were surprised with Zenit’s performance. Even Fergie admitted that Zenit would ‘have too be watched’ in the forthcoming Champions League. It seems that this victory really woke people up to Zenit’s slick style and good performances. Champions league big boys take note: Zenit want to ruin your party.
2008/2009 Champions League
Despite Zenit being the Super Cup champions, this is the cup every team in Europe really want. And many think Zenit have a decent chance. However, Zenit were unlucky enough to be drawn in the group of death along woth Real Madrid, Juventus and BATE.
It’s hard to really call any of these team’s a favourite. Real Madrid are obviously one of the most sucsessful teams ever, but they’ve been a bit wobbly in this competition recently.
Juventus have not really been the same since the whole ‘match-fixing’ scandel. That said, they’ve made good signings in Amuari and Poulsen. They also have, possibly, the best strike-force in the world with Trezeguet, Del Piero, Amauri, and Iaquinta. They’ll be hard to stop.
BATE should be the 100% 3-pointer. They qualified via beating Levski Sofia 2-1 on aggerate but shouldn’t be too much of a problem. That said, no team should ever be under-estimated.
This is such a hard group to predict but I’ll have a stab at guessing;
1. Real Madrid
As you can see, I’ve backed Zenit to qualify behind Madrid. I think Zenit will come second, but I’m not too sure who will qualify between Juve and Real.
UEFA cup defense?
If Zenit do fail to qualify, they could still drop into the UEFA cup. The UEFA Cup is a trophy that, realisticly, they should be looking at winning. AC Milan will be the hardest opponent in the tournament, but Spurs and Everton could also pose problems. Valencia and Ajax also shouldn’t be forgotten about.
So there you have it; 3 reasons to be get excited about Zenit this season. Remember look here for all the latest news and if you think I’ve forgotten about something important, PM me and I’ll strive to have a post out in around the next 48 hours. 🙂