Zenit St Petersburg v Celtic – Europa League talking points

Celtic are in Russia for the second leg of their Europa League tie with Zenit St Petersburg with a 1-0 lead from the first game in Glasgow last week.

Here, FP looks at five talking points ahead of the second leg of the last-32 clash on Thursday night.

How strong is Zenit’s staying power?

After going more than two months without a competitive game, Zenit were thrust into the cauldron of Parkhead and they struggled. The Russian side looked off the pace and barely threatened the Hoops goal.

For a team which cost so much to assemble, it must have been dispiriting for few hundred supporters who followed them to Celtic Park.

To what extent that 90 minutes benefited Roberto Mancini’s team remains to be seen but it is unlikely they will outrun the Scottish champions, especially in the latter stages.

Will one goal be enough for Celtic?

Callum McGregor’s thrilling strike separates the sides and obviously the Hoops would have liked at least one more goal for the trip to Russia.

However, it is unlikely that the Scottish champions will try simply to defend that slender lead.

Boss Brendan Rodgers claimed after the first game at Parkhead that Zenit would have to come out more and that could play into Celtic’s hands. Another goal in Russia would leave Zenit looking for three and there was no evidence last week that they are up to that task.

Is Tom Rogic fit enough to start?


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The Australia international had not played for three months due to a knee injury before getting an hour in the goalless Ladbrokes Premiership game against Kilmarnock at the weekend.

Rodgers had wanted to use the talented midfielder in the first game but he was not quite up to speed at that point, having to settle for a place on the bench.

However, Rogic might just have done enough against Killie to keep his place in the starting line-up for the second leg.

Will Charly be a Celtic darling?

ROAR 🔥🔥🔥

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Charly Musonda joined Celtic on an 18-month loan deal from Chelsea in January.

The 21-year-old Belgian winger has shown glimpses of his talent in the five appearances he has made for the Hoops so far and helped Celtic unlock the Zenit door last week.

His lofted pass allowed McGregor to fire in the winner and another piece of skill like that by Musonda in St Petersburg could sway the tie further in the Hoops’ favour.

Is the temperature rising?

They have a winter break in Russia for a reason and it promises to be a cold, cold night in St Petersburg.

The minus temperature during the game could go into double figures.

However, the good news for Celtic – and their fans – is that the stadium roof will be closed and conditions will be perfectly fine.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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