Thomas Tuchel became the first manager to reach back-to-back European Cup finals with different clubs last season, following up PSG’s defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2020 Lisbon showpiece with a 1-0 triumph over English champions Manchester City to secure Chelsea’s second title in Porto at the end of May.
The German coach will now look to reach his third successive final, but before he can even contemplate that date in Saint Petersburg, he must first navigate an awkward-looking Group H, which contains Juventus, Malmo and Tuesday’s opponents Zenit, whose Krestovsky Stadium will host the final.
This will actually be the first time Chelsea and Zenit have ever faced off, though the Blues are no strangers to taking on Russian opposition, having locked horns with Krasnodar in Group E last season, with The Bulls commendably securing a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge to secure third ahead of Rennes.
Tuchel’s side have made a tremendous start to the Premier League season, currently sitting second but level on points and goal difference with current pace-setters Manchester United, and he will be hoping that domestic form can now transfer over to the European scene as they look to avoid an early slip-up.
CLICK HERE to claim 888Sport’s offer • 18+ only • New customers only • A min deposit of £/€/$10 with promo code is required • You must bet a min of £/€/$10 at odds of 1/2 (1.50) or greater on a sports market that will be settled before the kick-off time of the first Champions League match of the 2021/22 season (September 15th 16:44:59GMT) • £/€/$10 Free Bet will be credited at the start of every group stage and will be valid for 7 days • Deposit balance is available for withdrawal at any time • General withdrawal restrictions & full T&Cs apply • BeGambleAware •
Chelsea vs Zenit: Match Stats
The man in form at the minute for Chelsea is Romelu Lukaku, who enters this contest fresh from scoring a brace in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa at the weekend. The brilliant Belgian has scored 13 goals in his 27 previous Champions League appearances, which came with Man Utd and Inter Milan, while he has found the net in each of his previous two appearances against Russian opposition. In 2017/18, Lukaku netted thrice in just two games against CSKA Moscow.
For Zenit their biggest threat will come from 6ft 6in striker Artem Dzyuba, who has scored nine goals for Sine-Belo-Golubye in the Champions League, just one fewer than the club’s top-scoring player in the competition (Hulk on 10 goals). In fact, Dzyuba has been directly involved in 13 goals (nine goals, four assists) across just 18 starts for the club in the Champions League, so Chelsea’s defence better be well-prepared, or they could be in for a difficult evening against the towering forward.
Chelsea vs Zenit: Squawka Says
Scoreline prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Zenit
Chelsea vs Zenit: Odds
Chelsea vs Zenit: Head to Head
This will be the first meeting between Chelsea and Zenit Saint Petersburg in a European competition. The London club are currently unbeaten in six previous games against Russian sides in the Champions League (five wins, one draw). Those include wins over Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Rubin Kazan and Krasnodar.