Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica 17:00 Wed
Some would see the fixture between Zenit St. Petersburg and Benfica as a walk-on for the Russian side as Ladbrokes make the Russian side odds against, seeing as Zenit have already beaten the Portuguese league champions, Porto, in the group stage of the competition.
However, things are not what they were in Portugal last season and one would be foolish to look upon Benfica as anything but contenders to proceed to the next stage of the competition.
The Encarnados currently sit atop the Primeira Liga and have opened up a five point gap on their nearest opposition and current rivals Porto despite competing on the European front also.
Luís Filipe Vieira’s side shocked the footballing world when they came out on top of Group C in this season’s Champions League, earning two draws both home and away to Manchester United which ended up influencing their eventual exit massively.
With stars such as Pablo Aimar, Rodrigo and Manchester United target Nicolas Gaitan all operating in full flow, the Portuguese outfit actually played some decent, free-flowing football in the earlier stages of the competition and fully earned their place in the Round of 16.
That being said, Zenit were no slouches in the earlier stages and while they may have scraped through their group, the Russian outfit will be looking to keep a clean sheet when they welcome Benfica to their cold climates on Tuesday.
One man they will have to do that without however is creative talisman Danny, who will be out until October through injury.
Another factor that could play on the minds and bodies of the Zenit players is the fact that it is currently the Russian league’s off-season and while one can be sure that Zenit have continued their training, their last fixture was in December and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if Luciano Spalletti’s side were a little rusty on gameday.