Lucescu – Failure or Scapegoat?

After a third-place finish last season, which meant Zenit St. Petersburg missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row, they sacked Romanian head coach Mircea Lucescu after just one season at the club. The baggage left behind by his predecessor André Villas-Boas was no gift. If from a distance, say in Lucescu’s previous home Donetsk for example, it looked attractive and manageable, then only when you get closer could you begin to see the clear signs of aging and where … [Read more...]

The Retirement of St. Petersburg’s Prodigal Son, Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Nothing warms the hearts of football fans like seeing a local lad ‘come good’ for his boyhood club. Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool red. Fransesco Totti turning out in Roma’s claret and gold. In an increasingly disloyal game these flashes of tribal faith resonate. They offer glimmers of hope in a sport too often darkened by cynicism. Beyond the obvious visual appeal of homegrown talent flying the hometown flag is something deeper and more valuable. But to journey to the heart of this phenomenon … [Read more...]

Season Preview: Zenit St. Petersburg

When André Villas-Boas left Zenit at the end of the 2015/16 season, he was replaced by the man who had turned Shakhtar Donetsk into the dominant force of Ukrainian football, Mircea Lucescu. The Romanian even managed to win a trophy in his first official match at the club, as his side beat CSKA Moscow in the Russian Super Cup. This, however, turned out to be the only silverware Zenit would win all season, as they crashed out of the Europa League in the Round of 32, missed out on Champions League … [Read more...]

The €12m Men and Their Free Transfers to Zenit

€7 million and €5 million. That, according to Transfermarkt, is the value of Dmitry Poloz and Aleksandr Erokhin. Of course, this is an underestimation given the circumstances on the Russian market. Two Russian internationals, who have just finished the season of their careers with FC Rostov, with two more years left of their contract can’t cost that little, given the limit on foreign players and the lack of quality players with Russian passport. Nevertheless, there is only one club in the … [Read more...]

Manolas and Driussi – Zenit Closing in on Significant Transfers

Roberto Mancini has now been Zenit St. Petersburg’s head coach for a few weeks, and he is starting to leave a mark on the squad. Over the previous weeks, the Blue-White-Sky Blues have already closed the signings of midfielder Christian Noboa and wingback Denis Terentiev from FC Rostov as well as midfielder Daler Kuzyaev from Akhmat Grozny. Although good players in the Russian Football Premier League, these transfers were, perhaps with the exception of Noboa who isone of the best midfielders … [Read more...]

Which Players Have a Future at Mancini’s Zenit?

For the second season in a row, Zenit St. Petersburg missed out on qualification to Europe’s finest club tournament, the Champions League. The disappointing results in the Russian Football Premier League cost head coach Mircea Lucescu his job, and he has been replaced by Roberto Mancini. The ambitious Italian has a history of being aggressive in the transfer market, proved by the fact that he during his time with Inter brought in players such as Luis Figo, Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel and … [Read more...]

Lombaerts’ Legacy

To be a centre back at Zenit St. Petersburg is like being the foundation stone that bolsters any one of St. Petersburg’s grand facades. While the service you perform is indispensible, adoration is largely reserved for those you support. Eyes linger on beauty for far longer than function, and in a city that rewards flamboyance and flair before all else, there is usually little adulation left for the quiet enabler. But magnificence without structure simply cannot exist. And as Nicolas Lombaerts … [Read more...]

Khodzhaniyazov Is Out In the Danish Cold

For several years Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov was considered one of Russia’s most promising defenders. In 2013, at the age of 17, he made his debut for Zenit St. Petersburg, and two years later he helped the Russian U19 national team reach the Euro final, which they eventually lost to Spain. However, despite the early promises he never broke through in the Russian Football Premier League, and in 2015, he moved to Danish Superliga side AGF on a three-year-contract. There, he became part of a … [Read more...]

Who is the Greatest Player to Ever Feature in the Russian Football Premier League?

This spring, Russia is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the kick off of the first edition of the Russian Football Premier League. Since then, 3569 players have plied their trade at clubs competing in the league, some with greater success than others, and that has naturally given birth to quite a few arguments about which player was the greatest. In honour of the anniversary, Russian sports newspaper Sport-Express, decided to find out once and for all. By asking ten different coaches … [Read more...]

Brian Idowu – How Russia Lost a Promising Talent

At a time where more and more foreigners are naturalized to fill the spots on the Russian national team, and Russian youngsters struggle to earn playing time in the Russian Football Premier League, it is irony at its cruelest that the country could soon end up losing one of the few youngsters who has actually taken the difficult journey from talent to RFPL regular. The player is Amkar Perm’s defender Brian Idowu who has caught the eye of the Super Eagles. Idowu’s father is Nigerian while his … [Read more...]