Monaco’s start to the season has been as unpredictable as Boris Johnson and his brick at the Tory Conference. In eight games they’ve won three, drawn one and lost four – including a 4-1 spanking away to Bordeaux. So it is no surprise that punters are lumping on Zenit St Petersburg to beat them in Russia tonight at odds of 4/6 (kick-off 5pm).
However, a lot like a lunatic with a brick, Monaco do offer a threat, and that’s why this 13/5 shot could be tonight’s hidden gem.
It is a tough ask for the French side to go and win in Russia considering their form and the 2,800km+ trip to a stadium where it’s little over five degrees celsius. It’s over 20 degrees celcius back in sunny Monaco so let’s hope Leonardo Jardim’s side have brought their winter woollies. However, although they might have lost a fair share of games this season, they have been finding the net.
Monaco may only have picked up 10 points from a possible 24, but they have failed to score just once in those eight games in Ligue One. Last year in the league they found the net in 84 per cent of their away games on the way to finishing second.
Zenit aren’t goal-shy either. This season they have racked up a whopping 26 goals in nine games (an average of 2.88 goals a game) and failed to score just once – in a 0-0 draw with Spartak Moscow. Zenit scored in 12 of their 15 home games last season, but also conceded in 10 of them, meaning that although they’re a threat going forward, they’re hardly watertight at the back either.
‘But that’s the Russian League’, I hear you cry at your computer screen, disgusted by these irrelevant stats ahead of the greatest club competition in football. Well, good sir, Zenit have found the net in 15 of their last 17 Champions League home games. And although in those 17 games they have kept nine clean sheets, a lot of sides with their wits about them – Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Porto, Malaga, Benfica – have been able to find the Russian net.
So rather than back Zenit at 4/6, consider Zenit to win and both teams to score at 13/5 as a Champions League hidden gem. The Russian side should probably take three points, but Monaco’s form suggests they’ll be on target as well.