PSV Eindhoven head to Russia as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Zenit st Petersburg and qualify for the Europa league last 16.

00000 wijPSV can all but wrap up the Eredivisie title on Sunday when they face Ajax, but first they travel to Russia with the task of overturning a first leg defeat against Zenit. The Russian champions were second best for most of the first leg in Eindhoven, but after PSV failed to take numerous chances, Brazilian forward Hulk punished them.

Phillip Cocu’s side recovered from the defeat to comfortably beat Dordrecht 3-0 on Sunday, but they will need to be at their best to have any chance of coming away from Russia with victory. PSV have only lost one away tie in the competition, but that was also in Russia when they went down 1-0 to Dinamo Moscow.

Cocu will be without right back Santiago Arias for the second leg, meaning Joshua Brenet will start, while Karim Rekik has also been left behind in Eindhoven. Top PSV talents Steven Bergwijn and Jordy de Wijs have traveled with the squad to Russia.

Probable PSV line-up: Zoet, Brenet, Willems, Bruma, Isimat-Marin, Guardado, Maher, Wijnaldum, Narsingh, Depay, De Jong

Zenit haven’t been in action since beating PSV and they will be well rested in their attempt to reach the last 16 of a competition they won in 2008. Andre Villas Boas side have only won one of their three previous European ties at the Petrovsky Stadium this season, but in the league Zenit have only tasted defeat twice all season.

Possible Zenit line-up: Lodygin, Smolnikov, Criscito, Garay, Neto, Garcia, Witsel, Shatov, Hulk, Danny, Rondon

Key battles

Luuk de Jong v Ezequiel Garay

De Jong netted his 20th goal of the season on Sunday and if PSV are to get back into the match against Zenit the striker will need to be at his best against Garay, who cost Zenit €15 million last summer. Its not only goals that De Jong brings to PSV, but his hold up play will be crucial on the counter attack to bring Depay and Narsingh into the game.

Jetro Willems v Hulk

Hulk made the difference last week in Eindhoven, but Willems did a good job of keeping the Brazilian quiet for most of the game. The left back is crucial to PSV going forward and has 11 assists to his name this season, but with Zenit likely to boss the possession Willems concentration will have to be at 100% to stop Hulk.

Andres Guardado v Alex Witsel

The battle for midfielder supremacy will be crucial on Thursday and it will be down to Guardado to stop Belgian Alex Witsel from controlling the game. It was Witsel’s interception which proved crucial in the first leg, and he will need to be kept quiet.

Can PSV turn the tie around?

PSV were unlucky not to get at least a draw in the first leg and they will need to score at least two goals if they are to get through the tie in ninety minutes, and that will be a huge task against a well organised Zenit defence. With one eye on the match against Ajax on Sunday, PSV’s European adventure will probably end on Thursday.

Prediction: Zenit 2-1 PSV




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