Dinamo Moscow’s 1945 Goodwill Tour of Britain

“The Russians are Coming”: Arrival 4th November 1945, Croydon. Two planes, appearing to be Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, approached the runway and touched down amidst a barrage of London sunshine, a characteristically mundane and everyday sight for an airport which based RAF Transport Command from 1944. These giant planes would ferry ammunition and vehicles from factory to operating unit throughout World War Two. However, on this day, the influx of these two planes was a prodigious and preternatural … [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...]

The Evolution of the 5 Man Defence in Russian Football

One of the most common opinions about the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) – rightly or wrongly – is that the style of football and tactical approach applied to the games is somewhat straggling behind the rest of Europe. Common observations from pundits and football fans alike include that the RFPL is one dimensional, the football in Russia is slow, the football is old fashioned and the players are thugs. Many of these opinions will be drawn from the showing of Russian clubs in European … [Read more...]

Rostov – Spartak: The Red-Whites at Their Usual Place

We are now more than two-thirds into the 2015/2016 season, and from a Spartak Moscow perspective, it is starting to look like many others. The Red-Whites are currently ranked seventh in the league, eight points behind league leaders Rostov, and four points behind Zenit in fourth place, which grants qualification for Europa League. Following last week’s 2-0 defeat to FC Rostov, captain Artyom Rebrov said: “The current situation is difficult, the club evolving here and there in the rankings.” Year … [Read more...]

Oleksandr Zinchenko: An Analysis from Ural v Ufa

At the precocious age of 19  Oleksandr Zinchenko is one of the most talented assets of the Russian Premier League, and it seems increasingly likely that his career at Ufa will not last beyond this summer. His departure would be a virtual certainty if the league's youngest club end up relegated, and with only eight games left to lift themselves out of the drop zone time is not on their side. If he were to depart, there is a strong likelihood he would consider moving away from Russia after he was … [Read more...]

Tactical Analysis. Benfica – Zenit

The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about affection. Their language contained four words for the different types of affection that we as humans feel. One of these, storge, is used to describe the familial affection experienced by family members for each other, the affection one feels for a pet, or the affection Zenit have had recently for playing in Portugal. With the Russian champions having won their last three encounters on Portuguese soil, most of Zenit’s players no doubt have enjoyed … [Read more...]

Russian Premier League – Statistical Analysis of Work Rate

If you have been following RFN over the last month, you may have seen our piece on the statistical analysis of speed of the RPL, looking at the first half of the season. We mentioned that as well as the speed statistics, there were also statistics available which detail the average distance covered in a game (km) and also the average speed (km/h). We hope that by taking a look into these, we can investigate which teams and players are the hardest working and how that might link in with their … [Read more...]

Russian Premier League – Statistical Analysis of Speed

With the end of the first part of the Russian Premier League window, many will look to evaluate the performance of their favourite teams and players, analysing how they can improve their game and what has been working so far. However, thanks to NTV, we are able to look a slightly different side of the season, and study the individual and team performance on a physical scale. At the end of most of their match broadcasts, NTV will put on screen some physical data accrued by the players in the … [Read more...]

Boris Arkadyev – The Soviet Genius Behind Total Football and Tiki-Taka

16 year old Matthew Brown reflects on a football revolutionary. (His blog, containing non-Russian football, can be found here: Matty’s Footy Thoughts) This article relies heavily on several excellent sources - Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson (buy it here), La Roja by Jimmy Burns (buy it here), and this article. Inverting the Pyramid provides great analysis on the history of football tactics and helped me with this hard to research, especially for non-Russian speakers, period of … [Read more...]

Tactical Analysis: Kuban 2-2 Zenit

Zenit at Kuban Krasnodar was played in front of a rocking stadium of fans from both clubs this past weekend.     In what was a huge game for both teams - Kuban trying playing their way into Europe - and Zenit chasing the title - the game had many interesting tactical battles. This week in our tactical review, I'm going to look at what Spalletti did right and wrong - and how Kuban played to their own strengths in having an opportunity to snatch the win. STARTING LINEUPS      Zenit … [Read more...]