How will CSKA evolve in Europe post-Slutsky?

When CSKA Moscow lineup to play AEK Athens in Tuesday night’s UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie, it will be a familiar sight, yet the manner of performance to come will hopefully be very different. European audiences have grown accustomed to the Army Men taking part at the highest level of club competition, featuring in 6 of the last 8 editions, however the key difference this time will be in the dugout; a first European season to assess the merits of Viktor Goncharenko, after 7 … [Read more...]

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...]

Betting Advice and Previews for RFPL Week 2

Match of the Round: Friday 17:30 BST CSKA Moscow - Lokomotiv Moscow By Toke Theilade (@TokeTheilade) Both CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow started the season off perfectly with victories. The Army Men defeated Anzhi Makhachkala 3-1 away, while the Railroaders won 1-0 at home against Arsenal Tula. Both opponents are expected to finish in the lower half of the league, so it is now time for the first major challenge of the 2017/2018 Premier League season. Crucial period for the Army … [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...]

Déjà vu all over again – Rotor Volgograd Reborn

For long-term followers of Russian football’s second-tier, the Football National League (FNL), the fixture list for the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign will, for some at least, have brought a strange combination of faint hope mixed with premature resignation. Last season, the feeder division to the Premier League was at least graced with historical giant Dinamo Moscow, battling below the top flight for the first time in their history. Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg’s reserve squads … [Read more...]

“I was a Soviet champion, too!”

Today, I'll treat you to an interesting list of mostly obscure players. How obscure, you might ask? Well, they played exactly one game in a season where their team won gold, and never won championships again. Some players became "champions-too", but later won other championships (either with their own team, or with another). These players didn't make the list. 1936 Spring, Dinamo Moscow Viktor Dubinin (1901-1984). 1 game (90 minutes), 0 goals. Became Dinamo's manager in 1937 after … [Read more...]

10 Russian Summer Signings to Watch in 2017/18

Leandro Paredes – AS Roma to Zenit St. Petersburg, Fee – €23 million One area where Zenit struggled last season was the centre of midfield, as the departure of playmaking midfielder Axel Witsel before the second half of the season left a hole which Brazilian winter transfer window signing Hernani and fellow Brazilian Mauricio failed to fill. This is the whole 23-year-old Leandro Paredes is expected to fill. After breaking into Roma’s first team in the last season, Paredes played 27 Serie A … [Read more...]

Russian Transfers – Homeward Bound

Each year we read the same nonsense with Russian transfers. XXXX is on the way to an English or German club. It's a done deal. It's in the final stages. A month ago CSKA Moscow's Golovin was about to join Arsenal. That was June 10th. Three days later the same news outlet reported Arsenal's Russian scout, Pavel Kucherov, said He is not talented enough for the European level and it’s unrealistic to discuss his transfer to a top Premier League club. Fanboys and journos went into overdrive with a … [Read more...]

Season Preview: Lokomotiv Moscow

The Super Cup, which was lost 2-1 to Spartak Moscow after extra time, brought to light both the strengths and weaknesses of Lokomotiv Moscow. On the one hand, head coach Yuri Semin can count on a team which never gives up and on a reliable defensive line; on the other hand, it's clear that the Railwaymen lacks quality in several positions and also need a deeper bench. All of this was evident last season as well, when despite lifting the Russian Cup, Loko performed very badly in the league, and … [Read more...]

Betting Advice & Previews for Week 1 of the RFPL

Game of the Round: Tuesday 17:30 BST: Dinamo Moscow – Spartak Moscow By Artëm Makarevitch (@AMakarevitch) After an eight-week long break, the Russian Football Premier League is finally getting back in action this weekend, and the fixture list has treated us with a Moscow derby in the first round. A fixture with a historic background, the game between last year’s first and second tier league champions, Spartak and Dinamo, will take place at the Arena Khimki. With both teams hoping to get … [Read more...]