Bhoys know Zenit better than Europa
Chris Davies reckons Celtic will be facing a Champions League-quality outfit when they kick off their Europa League campaign against Zenit St Petersburg.
The Hoops have dropped down into UEFA's second tier after finishing third in their Champions League group. But assistant boss Davies expects the standard to be just as tough as they take on Roberto Mancini's Russian outfit at Parkhead in tomorrow's first leg in the round of 32.
Zenit topped their Europa League section with five wins and a draw, and lead the tournament's scoring charts. "What's important to acknowledge is the level of the opponent we're about to face," Brendan Rodgers' right-hand man said.
"Having analysed them and watched them for a few months now, we know they are individually and collectively a top team - a Champions League-level team with quality.
"We have to recognise that, respect that and be prepared for that. They were the top scorers in the Europa League with 17 goals in six games, so they're scoring nearly three goals a game and conceding less than one on average. These numbers tell you a story as well."
While Mancini's side cruised in the round of 32, their domestic form has not been so impressive, with a run of just two wins in their last nine games costing Zenit top spot in the Russian Premier League.
They are now only just returning to competitive action after a near three-month winter break. But Davies believes Zenit - who have spent the last couple of weeks at a training camp in Turkey - will be fully prepared for action in Glasgow.
He said: "We've had an insight into that side of it in that when we were at Liverpool, we played them at the same round five years ago.
"We drew with them 3-3 over the two legs but went out on away goals.
"They were in very good condition. I personally expect them to be physically at a level to compete."