Here is my UEFA Cup preview for today, please note it was written early yesterday (wednesday) morning and I am posting it at half-time in the Zenit game, where the Russian side lead 1-0. The PSG bet is active and the French side are still trading at similar quotes.
UEFA CUP GALATASARAY-HAMBURG
Despite their defensive problems, they are without a recognised central defender today, I am hopeful that Galatasay can do enough to progress and keep our outright bet on them alive. They are struggling to keep a cleansheet in any case, so I am not 100% certain how much difference it will make ! Latest news is that Harry Kewell might play in the middle of the back four, which could at least be fun to watch, although I understand that this is the position he played in, very early in his football career. It is not all bad news, as Hamburg have offensive problems and will have one eye on a very important Bundesliga game at the weekend. Anyway, a watching brief for me in this one.
ZENIT ST PETERSBURG - UDINESE
The early spring sunshine that we are enjoying in the UK has not reached St Petersburg yet and this match is set to be played in sub zero temperatures, with the forecast at kick off set to be -5 degrees.
That will obviously be less of a problem to Zenit, who appeared to have the tie in control, until two late goals in the first leg, left them with a mountain to climb. They will not easily let slip their hold on the trophy they won last season and even without the suspended Shirkov and Anyukov, we can expect them to go all out for the two goal plus win, which would see them progress. Dick Advocaat's team will take inspiration from the fact that they overcame a similar deficit against Marseille last year, but at least they had an away goal in the bag that time.
If the visitors score, Zenit will need four, so they cannot be too gung ho, but if they are to succeed, probably need a half time lead, which they have enjoyed in their last three home starts in the competition, leading at the break against Bayern Munich, OM and Stuttgart. I think a small bet on the double result, Zenit to lead at half and full time is the best option and will be my selection for small stakes. Visitors are without the suspended Domizzi.
4.5 points Zenit- Zenit HT-FT 2.75 general quote .... bigger in places and on the exchanges.
SPORTING BRAGA - PARIS ST GERMAIN
Paul le Guen has not taken the UEFA Cup overly seriously this season and has tended to rotate his squad for the european games. However, they have still continued to perform well, a debacle at Schalke aside and keeping a clean sheet at Eastlands against Manchester City which is never easy and recording a 3-1 win at highflying Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, shows what they are capable of on the road.
After losing the classico to OM on home soil, I feel that they will want to bounce back and exorcise that defeat, before returning to league action at the weekend. It is true that despite that loss, they are involved in the closest Ligue 1 title race in a decade, but for now, after a poor seven days, I believe that they need a result.
Le Guen has a full squad avaialable, including Camara who was sent off against OM, as he starts a domestic suspension after this game.Braga are strong at home, but will be without top scorer Albert Meyong, who has in addition to nine league goals, notched five in this competition already. They tend to look for the early goal in the UEFA Cup, taking the lead here inside 8 minutes against Artmedia, Portsmouth and Wolfsburg, so the opening ten minutes will be key tonight, if PSG survive that, I expect them to score and progress. The french giants have not conceded an away Ligue 1 goal in 234 minutes and restricted Braga to three wayward attempts in the first leg.
6.5 points PSG to qualify 1.90 asian line.