Newcastle United make the 4,500km journey to Moscow on Thursday to take on big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala in the last 16 of the Europa League.
With their position in the Premier League still not looking fully secure, Newcastle are expected to name a mix-and-match side for the match.
Captain Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy, Jonas Gutierrez, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse will all be missing through a combination of injury, illness and ineligibility, so Yohan Cabaye will once again captain the side and Shola Ameobi is likely to return to the starting XI.
Ameobi, who made his debut for the St James’ Park club 13 years ago, has not started a league game since the middle of January, but started and scored in the second leg of the previous European tie with Metalist Kharkiv and with three goals is the club’s leading scorer in the competition.
The Nigerian-born striker has clearly enjoyed himself in the Europa League a lot more than in domestic action, where he has only managed one goal, so he could be good value for a goal in Russia at 11/4.
For all Ameobi’s good form, he and his team mates are not fancied to come home with a win in bwin’s 3-way betting market as they are priced at 9/2, while the home side are a very short 3/5, with even the draw relatively long at 14/5.
Those odds may come as no surprise to the Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, who admitted in mid-week that Anzhi were a ‘step up in class’ from what they have faced in the competition so far.
The task ahead of Newcastle in Russia is emphasised by their record of just one away win in the Premier League and Anzhi’s 100% home record in Europe this term, conceding just one goal along the way.
With goal chances likely to be at a premium for Newcastle, it will be important to remain resilient at the back and aim for a clean sheet to take back to the north-east.
This will be no easy task, but the Magpies have kept six clean sheets in Europe already in this campaign and you can find 18/5 on Anzhi not scoring.
Trying to penetrate the English side’s defence is arguably one of the most imposing strike partnerships in European football right now in the shape of Samuel Eto’o and Brazilian international Willian.
Willian, who had courted the attention of Chelsea and Tottenham last summer, made the surprise move from Shakhtar Donetsk this winter and could potentially form a frightening relationship with former Barcelona and Inter Milan star Eto’o.
With their pedigree, it comes as no great shock to see Anzhi’s front two extremely short priced to find the net on Thursday, with the Cameroon international at 6/5 and Willian at 2/1.
Considering their absentees, you would be hard pushed to disagree with idea that the best the Toon can hope for is a 0-0 draw and that’s why 27/4 on that very outcome is this writer’s top bet for this game.
Punters registering with bwin today can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on a goalless affair in Moscow will return £155 if successful.