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Nov 23, 2021 at 8pm UK at Swedbank Stadion, Malm
Malmo
1 - 1
Zenit
Rieks (28')
Dahlin (50'), Ahmedhodzic (56'), Moisander (74'), Rieks (90')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Rakitskiy (90+2' pen.)
Claudinho (36'), Wendel (55'), Chistyakov (62')
Chistyakov (86')

Preview: Malmo vs. Zenit St Petersburg - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Malmo vs. Zenit St Petersburg - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Malmo and Zenit St Petersburg, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Though both sides are effectively out of the running to progress from Champions League Group H, the chance to stay in continental competition is on the line when Malmo meet Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.

Still pointless after a chastening first four games, the hosts must win to stay in contention for a Europa League spot, while their fellow national champions can secure third place with a point.


Match preview

Back-to-back defeats against the European champions during the past few weeks confirmed Malmo's hopes of defying the odds and reaching the Champions League last 16, as their return to the elite continued without either a point or a goal.

The Allsvenskan title-holders were beaten home and away by Chelsea, leaving them rock-bottom of a group in which they have already conceded 12 goals - including four to Zenit last time the clubs met.

Having started in the first round of qualifying, Malmo made it back to the big time after six years away, after they secured a 21st Swedish championship triumph - the fifth in their last eight attempts. They are also back on top domestically this term, as they continue to battle it out with Stockholm side Djurgarden for the title.

However, Di Blae are one of only two teams still seeking their first point in the group stage, along with Turkish title holders Besiktas, while Dynamo Kiev are the only other club without a goal.

Nonetheless, restricting the reigning champions to a one-goal winning margin last time out in the Champions League - despite failing to muster a shot on target and sacrificing nearly three-quarters of the ball - may help build belief in Jon Dahl Tomasson's squad.

Since that loss at Eleda Stadion, Malmo have gone on to beat IFK Gothenburg away from home, before being held to a 2-2 draw by Hacken on Saturday - when Malik Abubakari's 84th-minute equaliser saved a point. They will have to step up another level, though, if they are to break their Group H duck this week, as they now meet opponents who picked them apart on Russian soil.

The first meeting between these sides, on the second matchday, was also Zenit's first competitive match against a Swedish club. Following Claudinho's early strike in St Petersburg, the home side went on to record their biggest Champions League victory, with the 4-0 success being capped by a stoppage-time Wendel goal.

When the Russian champions reconvene with their Swedish counterparts on Tuesday, they will be seeking to keep alive the faintest sliver of a hope that they can still steal a top-two finish, but realistically they are bound for Europe's second-tier tournament after the mid-winter break.

To secure the third place required to switch across to the Europa League, Zenit must only secure a point, but their patchy recent form suggests such a result cannot be guaranteed.

Sergei Semak's side have may lead the league table once again, but have lost four of their last eight outings in all competitions. They have posted three imperious victories during that time though, by an aggregate of score of 16-3 - including a 7-1 thumping of Spartak Moscow last month.

Since the start of November, Zenit have been beaten for a second successive time by Group H leaders Juventus - losing 4-2 in Turin - then drawn away to Ural before beating 10-man Nizhny Novgorod 5-1 at the weekend.

They therefore remain well-placed to claim a fourth straight domestic title but have now lost nine of their last 11 matches in Europe's elite club competition. Having finished bottom of their group in both of the last two seasons, the Zenitchiki will be determined to at least go one better this time around.

Malmo Champions League form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Malmo form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Zenit St Petersburg Champions League form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

Zenit St Petersburg form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

Ahead of his team's penultimate Champions League group fixture, Malmo coach Jon Dahl Tomasson has several injury concerns to contend with.

Erdal Rakip missed North Macedonia's recent World Cup qualifiers due to a knee problem that also kept the midfielder out of Di Blae's weekend draw. Captain Andreas Christiansen was also forced off in the win at Gothenburg earlier this month and is still sidelined with a hamstring injury, so is not expected to make his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition until next month's trip to Turin.

Jonas Knudsen is a long-term absentee for the home side, who may line up in a 3-5-2 formation led by Croatian striker Antonio Colak up front. Meanwhile, Veljko Birmancevic is the man likeliest to deputise for Rakip.

Unlike Malmo, their visitors have had few problems in the final third of late, and Zenit striker Sardar Azmoun netted in both Iran's World Cup qualifying wins during the past fortnight.

His attacking colleague Artem Dzyuba, who scored a hat-trick on Friday, had found the net in six successive league matches before previously drawing a blank at Ural, making him the club's top scorer in the league this season on 10 goals - three more than Azmoun. The Russian Premier League's all-time top scorer should start as a lone striker in Sweden.

Sergei Semak, though, is set to be without Daler Kuzyaev due to a muscular issue, while goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk has been sidelined since the second loss to Juventus. Therefore, Mikhail Kerzhakov is expected to start as Zenit's last line of defence.

Both Douglas Santos (muscle strain) and Magomed Ozdoev (knee ligaments) returned from injury last week and could feature at some stage.

Malmo possible starting lineup:
Dahlin; Nielsen, Ahmedhodzic, Brorsson; Berget, Lewicki, Innocent, Pena, Olsson; Birmancevic, Colak

Zenit St Petersburg possible starting lineup:
Kerzhakov; Lovren, Chistyakov, Rakitskyi; Karavaev, Barrios, Wendel, Santos; Malcom, Dzyuba, Claudinho


We say: Malmo 1-2 Zenit St Petersburg

Malmo will surely get off the mark in terms of goals on Tuesday night, but their visitors' attacking potential can cause them more problems after a dominant display when the teams met in September.

For that reason, the Swedish champions will go down to a fifth consecutive defeat; sending Zenit through to the Europa League knockout rounds as a result.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data



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Swedish Allsvenskan Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1HammarbyHammarby65101321116
2Mjallby AIF641183513
3MalmoMalmo633061512
4AIK FotbollAIK640277012
5Djurgardens IFDjurgarden7322127511
6HackenHacken6321118311
7ElfsborgElfsborg6312146810
8IFK GoteborgGoteborg631275210
9KalmarKalmar63038539
10IFK NorrkopingNorrkoping62136607
11Varbergs BoISVarbergs621347-37
12SiriusSirius6213311-87
13Helsingborg712469-35
14Varnamo612348-45
15SundsvallSundsvall6105414-103
16Degerfors6006216-140
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