Glasgow Celtic face a tough battle after being drawn against Russian side Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League.
The Hoops failed to make it out of theirÂ ChampionsÂ League group and would have beenÂ hoping for an easierÂ tieÂ in order toÂ progress in theÂ competition, butÂ insteadÂ will have to face a strong Russian team.
Zenit eased into the round of 32 with five wins and one draw, securingÂ 16 points in the process. They also scored more goals than anyone else in the opening round of theÂ EuropaÂ League;Â finding the back of the net on 17 occasions.
Brendan Rodgers’ side will have to ensureÂ defensivelyÂ they do all they can to keep outÂ suchÂ a prolific forward line.
Never an easy tie going to Russia but Zenit will still be 2 months into a 3 month winter shut down when they face Celtic, if ever there's a good time to face Russians it'll be then.
— Inside The SPFL (@AgentScotland) December 11, 2017
Zenit will have defrosted by then. Very difficult tie for us.
— TheGreenTeam (@SunKissedBhoy) December 11, 2017
Celticâ€™s last KO tie in Europe was also against a side coached by Manciniâ€¦
— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) December 11, 2017
Winnable if rodgers fixes the defensive problem
— Dermot O'Connor (@DOConnor1888) December 11, 2017
Ahead of the tie, Zenit presidentÂ SergeiÂ FursenkoÂ swept aside any notion that the Scottish champions would pose a threat to his club.
“We have already played against Scottish clubs, like Glasgow Rangers, and been quite successful. If we set ourselves the highest goals, then we must get past teams like this. I think this was a good draw for us,”Â FursenkoÂ said in the Daily Record.
The Russian side are managed by former Manchester City managerÂ RobertoÂ Mancini. The ItalianÂ has previous experience of Parkhead after he managed an Inter Milan team that beat theÂ BhoysÂ 4-3 on aggregate back in 2015.
Zenit are unlikely to be intimidated by the hostile atmosphere they will get at Celtic Park butÂ Rodgers will hope that one area he can have the edge over hisÂ counterparts is in match fitness.
Mancini’s side are now on a winter break and will notÂ return toÂ league action until March.Â Therefore,Â the Northern Irishman’s sideÂ shouldÂ haveÂ theÂ upper handÂ in terms of match sharpness.
Celtic will host Zenit at Parkhead onÂ FebruaryÂ 15th and this is what the fans are saying:
Centre backs and a goal keeper is needed if we ever want to progress far in this comp. Gordonâ€™s distribution in Europe this season has been woeful.
— Stephen (@StephenConnon) December 11, 2017
Iâ€™d love Celtic to go through, but they donâ€™t have a chance zenit will ease through.
— Darren Docherty (@Dazzy_D1989) December 11, 2017
It's going to be tough in Russia, most teams find it tough there. Hopefully, we can pull out a sneaky out there.
— McdoeðŸ™ (@OvenBakedDoe) December 11, 2017
Hopefully by then we've signed a couple of defenders need to strengthen the squad in January if we're going to go any further in Europe ðŸ€
— Barry Bhoy â (@Barry_John_1967) December 11, 2017
The Krestovsky stadium is 65K+, and it's almost always full. There will tough pressurre on the Celtic boys.
— St.Petersburg Guide (@SpbTourGuide) December 11, 2017
@celticfc never lost a game in Russia here's hoping that run goes on
— Matthew Jones (@MatthewdjCFC25) December 11, 2017