Betting Preview: Chelsea vs Zenit – Lukaku to run riot as Blues defend title

Chelsea will be looking to kick off the defence of their European crown in style when they host Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues are arguably in a stronger position than they were in May when they actually won the Champions League.

The additions of Romelu Lukaku and Saul Niguez, plus a full pre-season for manager Thomas Tuchel, make Chelsea one of the standout contenders in this season's competition.

When, where and how to watch

When: Tuesday, September 14, 8pm BST

Where: Stamford Bridge

How to watch: BT Sport

Follow this game live via our score centre

Best bets

Chelsea to win to nil at around 3/4

Chelsea to keep a clean sheet at around 4/6

Romelu Lukaku brace goalscorer at around 17/10

Chelsea and Zenit have never gone head-to-head but considering the London outfit have an unbeaten record against Russian opposition in the Champions League - five wins and one draw - it's no surprise to see them as overwhelming favourites.

The Blues started this new campaign like a house on fire, winning four of their first five competitive games.

Chelsea, Premier League, Aston Villa

The only team to halt Tuchel's machine was Liverpool three weeks ago. On that occasion, Chelsea went down to 10 men at the end of the first half, yet still, they managed to depart Anfield with a point in the bag.

Tuchel's side will be coming into this mid-week fixture on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Aston Villa. In truth, it's scary to think that the London outfit produced such a scoreline without two key players in N'Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic.

Zenit St Petersburg players huddle before a 2021/2022 Russian Premier League Round 6 football match between Zenit St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow at Gazprom Arena

Nevertheless, Zenit shouldn't be easily underestimated. The Russian champions are unbeaten in the league and they are arriving in the English capital on the back of a 3-1 victory over Akhmat Grozny.

The Petersburg side are on a seven-match winless run in the Champions League. However, considering no one expects much from the Russians, they will have absolutely no pressure on their shoulders.

Despite this, there's only one team to back in the betting.

Chelsea against Russian opposition

2004 Champions League Group Stage - Chelsea 2-0 CSKA Moscow

2004 Champions League Group Stage - CSKA Moscow 0-1 Chelsea

2010 Champions League Group Stage - Spartak Moscow 0-2 Chelsea

2010 Champions League Group Stage - Chelsea 4-1 Spartak Moscow

2013 Europa League Quarter-Final - Chelsea 3-1 Rubin Kazan

2013 Europa League Quarter-Final - Rubin Kazan 3-2 Chelsea

2020 Champions League Group Stage - Krasnodar 0-4 Chelsea

2020 Champions League Group Stage - Chelsea 1-1 Krasnodar

They don't lose, they don't concede

Chelsea defeats in the Champions League group stages are rare occurrences. In fact, their last such defeat came two years ago against Valencia. Since then, the Blues have enjoyed seven wins and four draws.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has praised Guardiola

Thomas Tuchel's men also refuse to concede goals. Out of their five competitive games this season, Chelsea have only conceded twice - once in the Super Cup against Villarreal and another against Liverpool in the Premier League.

If the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa couldn't penetrate the Blue wall, Zenit are unlikely to do it either.

Who is Zenit's biggest threat?

The biggest attacking threat to Zenit's disposal is Artem Dzyuba who has scored 74 goals in his 160 games for the club.

Former Barcelona player Malcolm poses another potential threat. However, with the Brazilian only managing eight goals in 36 appearances, he's not exactly firing on all cylinders.

Zenit St Petersburg's player Artyom Dzyuba (L) and head coach Sergei Semak shake hands as they celebrate victory in a 2021/2022 Russian Premier League Round 6 football match against CSKA Moscow at Gazprom Arena

The main man to watch though is Sardar Azmoun. The Iran international has made a flying start to the season, bagging six goals in seven competitive games.

If, and it's a big if, Zenit get on the scoresheet, it's most likely going to be Azmoun who delivers the goods.

Goalscorer bets

Three games. Three goals. Romelu Lukaku has not wasted any time in getting his second spell at Chelsea off to a good start.

Romelu Lukaku Chelsea vs Arsenal Aug21

The Belgium international is one of the hottest properties in soccer and it's no surprise to see him priced at around 40/85 to score anytime.

However, our recommendation comes from the brace goalscorer market. Here, Lukaku offers a far more enticing price of around 7/4 to score twice.

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