Celtic will take on the Russian outfit in the UEFA Europa League last 32, with the Hoops hosting them on Thursday, before travelling to St Petersburg seven days later for the return match.

Brendan Rodgers and his backroom staff have been doing their homework on Zenit since December’s draw for the knockout stages, leaving them in no doubt that Roberto Mancini’s men are top of the class when it comes to continental competition.

But, while wary of their opponents, the Scottish champions will head into the contest with positivity and belief, according to the Celtic assistant manager.

“What’s very important to acknowledge and respect is the level of opponent we are about to play against,” he said. “Having analysed them and watched them now for a few months, and had people scouting them, they are individually and collectively a top team, a Champions league-level team, with quality. We recognise that, we respect that and we will prepare for that.

“They are Champions League level. I have spent a lot of time watching and analysing them. They are a team that are good in possession but also very good on the counter attack and they can be a threat from set-plays – the top teams can do all three of those.

“They have shown that in the games I have seen. They are top scorers in the Europa League, with 17 goals, which is nearly three goals a game and they have conceded less than a goal a game, and these numbers tell a story as well. We respect them but we see it as an opportunity, and we are going to take a lot of positivity and energy into the game and see what happens.”

Davies also dismissed any notion that Zenit would be short on match sharpness or conditioning as they resume competitive action following their winter break. Read more via: http://www.celticfc.net/news/13960.