Two teams on opposite sides of the standings will meet each other in Round 22 when FC Barcelona hosts Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday. The hosts won their last two games and seem to be on the winning path again. Last week they defeated Zvezda at home, 86-82. Zenit seems to have found its rhythm and has won three of its last four games, including last week at home against Olympiacos, 91-87.
Earlier this season
This will be just the second time that these two teams play each other in the EuroLeague. In their previous encounter in Round 2, Barcelona won on the road in Russia 63-87. Former Zenit sharpshooter Kyle Kuric led the winners with 24 points including 4 of 4 three-pointers.
Nikola Mirotic and Will Thomas will be the protagonists of a duel between two mobile big men on Thursday. Mirotic starts for Barcelona and leads the team with 18.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in almost 28 minutes on the court per game. Thomas is also one of Zenit's major contributors with averages of 10.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.
Keys to victory: Barcelona
The hosts average 9 more points than the visitors per game, so their main leverage over Zenit lays on the offensive side. Barcelona seems to have overcome a rough moment of form and the team will look to stay on the winning track for good. Zenit seems to fare a bit better on the defensive categories, but Barca has better numbers from all ranges.
Keys to victory: Zenit
It took a while, but Zenit seems to have found its game in the last month. Winning in Barcelona will be a difficult task, but the painful loss at home could trigger some extra motivation for the visitors. However, if the team takes the game to the end, details like being the second-worst team in the league from the free-throw line could become a problem, so paying attention to those kinds of things could go a long way for Zenit.