Anzhi Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink has rejected the tag of bookmakers' favorites to win their Europa League group ahead of Thursday's opener at Udinese.
The star-studded Russian side was also pitted with Liverpool and Young Boys of Switzerland in Group A, prompting the bookmakers to favor the billionaire-owned outfit to win it outright.
"I don't know whether to believe these bookmakers," Hiddink said. "We don't have a lot of players with experience of playing at the group stage of the European competitions.”
“I wouldn’t say that Anzhi are favorites, although of course we want to be on top of the group.”
When pushed, Hiddink said the 18-time English champions had the edge.
“Liverpool are definitely favorites, but Udinese have made a good impression in recent years.”
Hiddink said that the team’s first-choice goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov didn't travel to Italy due to a concussion sustained in the 5-2 win over FC Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League last week.
Anzhi stormed through two qualifying rounds in the Europa League this season, where they overpowered Hungary’s Honved 5-0 and Vitesse Arnhem 4-0. Anzhi beat AZ Almkaar 6-0 on aggregate in the play-off round.
Anzhi are currently third in the Russian Premier League with 17 points after eight games, while Udinese are just one place above the relegation zone with one point in three Serie A games.