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...]

Villas-Boas and the War On Russian Media

Saturday, Zenit added another three points to their collection, which brought them just three points behind league leaders CSKA and two points behind Rostov in second place. Zenit received the points after beating Amkar 2-0 in Perm, a place that always causes problems for visiting sides. In fact, only three teams have won away against Amkar this season, and notable sides such as CSKA and Terek have both lost there this season, while Rostov drew 0-0 two weeks ago. With that in mind, it is … [Read more...]

Villas-Boas Set to Take Gap Year

In September last year, Zenit head coach André Villas-Boas revealed that he would leave Zenit and Russia once his current contract expires after the season. When Villas-Boas announced his departure, few people were surprised, as the Portuguese head coach had clashed with the Russian authorities several times, complaining about everything from the pitches to the referees and the foreigner quota. After Zenit lost 3-1 at home to Krylya Sovetov at the beginning of September, 45% of the readers at … [Read more...]

RFN Podcast: Reaction to internationals, Putin’s best position, the Russian Leicester City, Zenit’s new manager

Host Thomas Giles is joined by fellow Russian Football News writers Toke Theilade and Andrew Flint. The trio react to Russia's recent international friendly matches and deliberate on what position would Vladimir Putin play if he were selected in the national team. They also discuss the rise of FC Rostov, the Russian Leicester City, and predict whether they really can win the Russian Premier League. Finally they suggest potential candidates for the manager's job at Zenit St. … [Read more...]

Lombaerts Needs to Look Beyond Russia and Zenit St. Petersburg

Already out of the Champions League and unlikely to return next season Lombaerts needs to choose his next move carefully. As the final whistle blew on Zenit St Petersburg's 2-1 Champions League defeat to Benfica, Nicolas Lombaerts was probably left wondering what could have been. Zenit and Lombaerts had been near-faultess in the group phase, picking up five wins in their first five games – as well as two clean sheets – to top their pool with a game to spare. Champions League glory and a … [Read more...]

From Red-White to Blue-White-Sky Blue – How Zenit’s Kits Have Changed Over the Years

On December 1, Zenit St. Petersburg opened an exhibition dedicated to the club’s 90th jubilee. The exhibition is held at one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious shopping centers. Star players such as Hulk, Javi Garcia and Ezequiel Garas as well as the club’s Portuguese head coach André Villas-Boas took part in the opening ceremony. For them, the most surprising thing at the exhibition was probably the red kit Zenit used in the middle of the 20th century. Today it is difficult to imagine … [Read more...]

The Incredible Hulk – Now as a Team Player

In the Marvel comic books, the brilliant scientist Bruce Banner turns into a raging, green monster, better known as Hulk, whenever he gets angry. When this happens, Banner loses his calm, human and intelligent self, and he can no longer control his own actions, as the Hulk only behaves according to its emotions and impulses. The football version of Hulk is, luckily, very different, although there are similarities. Zenit’s Brazilian striker Givanildo Vieira de Sousa was nicknamed Hulk because … [Read more...]

What Do Zenit’s Fans Think About Villas-Boas?

Before Zenit St. Petersburg’s important clash against rival side CSKA Moscow in September the club's head coach André Villas-Boas publicly announced what many had suspected for a while: that he would leave Zenit and Russia after this season when his contract expired. “Talking about a contract extension,” Villas-Boas said, “when we last met with you I said that the club had made me an offer at the end of last season, I have refused and at the end of the season I will leave the club.” Even … [Read more...]

Sergey Semak – Russia’s Greatest Leader

In 1938, just a year before the bubbling unrest in Nazi Germany spilled into the horrors of World War Two, Donetsk Oblast, the easternmost province of Ukraine was cracked into two portions. One was christened Stalino after Joseph Stalin; the other Voroshilovgrad in honour of the great military officer Kliment Voroshilov. Three years later Voroshilov, a man of proud Ukrainian heritage, would valiantly counter attack advancing German tanks armed with only a pistol during Operation Barbarossa. This … [Read more...]

RPL Week 8: Around the Match Day

Even a week of international football couldn’t keep Zenit and their manager André Villas-Boas out of the media spotlight. There was plenty of speculation before the international break about his future but the Portuguese cleared the mist and confirmed that he would be leaving the club next summer when his contract expires. It has been well-known that Villas-Boas has been unhappy in Russia, from the clubs transfer policy to league regulations. Basically, everything. At first, it seemed like … [Read more...]