Denis Davydov: The Russian Messi, or just another False Dawn?

Denis Davydov made his debut for Spartak almost four years ago at the tender age of eighteen after a string of impressive performances for Yevgeni Bushmanov's Spartak-2 side. However, whether operating in his preferred position as a centre-forward or on the wing for the first team, the Moscow-born striker has not managed to live up to his early hype, and the "Russian Messi" tag attributed to him by Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun has slowly diminished. Prior to this season, fans of Spartak … [Read more...]

Carrera’s Catenaccio or Alenichev’s Authoritarianism?

Spartak Moscow is on the way to returning to the zenith of their powers; the team currently lead the way in this season’s Russian Football Premier League (RFPL), have arguably the best player and manager in the league, and are one of the economic powerhouses with a deep pool of oil money. Leonid Fedun has long been one of the richest oligarchs’s in Russian football through his status as the major shareholder (9.2%) of LUKoil, but for the first time since the demise of the great Oleg Romantsev, … [Read more...]

RFN Top 50 2016: 35 – 21

Find the players ranked 50-36 right here: 35: Salvatore Bocchetti, Defender, Spartak (NEW ENTRY) The left-footed centre-back has flourished under the tutelage of fellow Italian Massimo Carrera this season, improving on his good run of form in the latter stages of the 2015-2016 season under Dmitri Alenichev. Bocchetti has been played in numerous positions this calendar year, proving adept playing in a back-three, and has even been played as a left back earlier in his career. On the pitch he … [Read more...]

Spartak-CSKA Preview: The Return of the Myaso-Koni Derby

Myaso (Meat), and Koni (Horses) are two historic, vitriolic aphorisms cast by both sides of the East Moscow divide. Spartak fans refer to themselves as myaso in a satirical throwback to their origins as food industry workers, while koni refers to the location of CSKA’s original ground built upon a hippodrome. Arguably the most voracious and competitive of the Moscow derbies is finally upon us, six months after their last meeting at the Arena Khimki in March, where CSKA ran out 1-0 winners thanks … [Read more...]

Yann M’Vila set to sign for Sunderland from Rubin Kazan

Yann M’Vila’s turbulent summer is all set to end soon, with sources in both North-East England and Kazan confirming to RFN that the enigmatic Frenchman is set to sign a four-year-deal with Sunderland on the back of a highly successful loan stint at the club. Sunderland fans all summer have been dismayed by their lack of progress on the transfer front, with the European Championships and uncertainty over the future of Sam Allardyce postponing all proposed transfers deals. Since the appointment … [Read more...]

EURO 2016 Preview: Russia – Wales

Two breath-taking celebrations have personified Sbornaya’s European Championships’ thus far; Vasiliy Berezutskiy and Marek Hamšík’s fervent roars upon scoring each of their respective goals in the tournament. Although in a breathless finish in which Russia threatened to equalise, earlier defensive errors, stagnant creativity and selection errors condemned them to a crushing defeat against Slovakia. Now we look ahead and evaluate whether or not Sbornaya can claim a victory against Wales, and give … [Read more...]

Sbornaya’s Golden Generation and the 1960 European Nations Cup

Igor Netto, Valentin Ivanov, Viktor Ponedelnik and Lev Yashin. The ‘brilliant quartet’ who emphatically led the Soviet Union to the inaugural European Nations’ Cup trophy. Earned after 120 minutes of attrition against a stubborn Yugoslavia side, they were eventually victorious in the final, winning 2-1 through goals from Slava Metreveli and Ponedelnik. The Golden Generation Netto was an accomplished leader with excellent technical ability, much of which he attributed to the style of … [Read more...]

‘Strelec’ in the GULAG: Eduard Streltsov’s Incarceration and Survival in the Vyatlag Archipelago

Curse of the Råsunda Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm – for many Russian football fans a name synonymous with mythic tales of what might have been for the national sport, and their star player, Eduard Anatoliyevich Streltsov the “Russian Pelé”. Like so many other would-be football superstars he was tragically robbed of his career and could even be recalled as the “Russian Duncan Edwards”. The 1958 World Cup was the watershed moment in Brazilian Pelé’s career, on 29 June the then … [Read more...]

The Siege Game: Football In the City of the Dead

31 May 1942. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the artillery and gunfire stopped for a moment to hear a blow of a referee’s whistle in Dinamo Stadium. Despite the brutal devastation wrought upon the populace by German forces, a football match between Dinamo Leningrad and Nevsky Zavod took place. It was not just merely a leisure activity for the besieged citizens to enjoy but a defiant signal of resistance, that Leningrad would not surrender. Siege Mentality German forces surrounded … [Read more...]