RFN Top 50 2016: 3-1

3: Giuliano, Midfielder, Zenit (NEW ENTRY) No one really knew what to expect from the Brazilian when he joined Zenit before this season. After a couple of seasons in Ukraine with Dnipro Giuliano returned to Brazil in 2014, and left the public eye. When Zenit sold Hulk, many fans hoped for the club to replace him with a major signing, but Giuliano, who was brought in for €7 million, has done a better job than any marquee signing could ever do. Of course, it has been impossible for Giuliano … [Read more...]

Mid-Season Review: Krasnodar

Introduction The opening of the magnificent Krasnodar Stadium has failed to mask what has been a slightly underwhelming season on the pitch for the Bulls, but the firing of Oleg Kononov nevertheless came as a surprise. Another Europa League group stage campaign has seen them squeeze through thanks to a superior head to head record against Salzburg, while they are out of contention for the title having fallen 12 points behind Spartak Moscow already. A large part of the failure to spark in … [Read more...]

5 Things We Learned About Russian Football in August

1: Sbornaya’s rejuvenation process is finally underway Neither Fabio Capello nor Leonid Slutsky managed to force through the needed generational changes on the national team, but Stanislav Cherchesov looks like a man who is ready to do what it takes to be successful in 2018. It is still very early in the process, but the former Spartak goalkeeper’s first squad looked very promising. He kept no fewer than 15 of the 23 European Championship participants out of the squad, and he included several … [Read more...]

Kokorin and Smolov – The Tale of Dinamo’s Two Jewels

Two years ago, Aleksandr Kokorin had just finished his best-ever season for Dinamo Moscow. The then 23-year-old striker had scored ten goals in the league and another four in the World Cup qualification campaign. Kokorin went to score another at the World Cup in Brazil, where he was one of few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Russian campaign. Meanwhile, his teammate and buddy Fyodor Smolov watched the tournament at home in Moscow together with his model girlfriend, the former Miss … [Read more...]

Russian Premier League: Will anyone move to England this summer?

  The Russian Premier League isn’t exactly regarded as one of the top divisions in the world in terms of quality but there are still plenty of talented footballers throughout the 16-team league. In fact, plenty of Russia’s top prospects could earn a move to England’s top flight this summer if they perform well for the national team at Euro 2016. Here are just a few of the Russian league’s most gifted footballers and why they could earn a deserved move to the Premier League at some point this … [Read more...]

Will Fyodor Smolov Earn a Big Money Move This Summer?

Fyodor Smolov enjoyed an immense 2015-16 campaign as he finished as the Russian Premier League’s top goal scorer with 20 strikes in just 29 appearances as well as winning the ‘Russian Player of the Year’ award in the RFN Awards. The 26-year-old’s ability to shake off his markers in the penalty area and finishing ability are both unrivalled in Russia and he could earn a move to a bigger club this summer. In fact, he even scored more goals than Zenit St Petersburg star Hulk, who is widely regarded … [Read more...]

RFN Top 50 – 10-4

10. Seydou Doumbia, forward, CSKA On a personal level, 2015 has shot up and down for Seydou Doumbia as the Ivorian hitman finally secured his big move to Serie A with AS Roma, only to return with his tail between his legs in the summer on loan to CSKA. Despite an initial burst of goals that inspired the Army Men through to the Champions League group stages, his impact has diminished significantly; although his upper body strength is impressive, according to InStat only Edgar Manucharyan … [Read more...]

Five Things Russia’s Recent Friendlies Taught Us

After securing qualification for next summer’s Euro, Leonid Slutsky had his first chance to experiment a bid during Russia's two friendlies against Portugal and Croatia. Slutsky had to do without a couple of experienced players, as both Aleksandr Kokorin and Vasiliy Berezutskiy were out with injuries, which challenged the coach to find new options. When Russia took on Portugal in Krasnodar Saturday evening, Slutsky fielded his strongest possible line-up, something that payed off as the match … [Read more...]

Season Preview: Ural Ekaterinburg

Intro: Following last season’s nail-biting escape from relegation in the playoff against Tom Tomsk, the RPL’s easternmost club are faced with a major challenge to keep their heads above the water. With two strong teams gaining promotion in Anzhi Makhachkala and Krilya Sovetov, the fight for survival will be even more intense this time round, but they have brought in a specialist at battling against the odds in Viktor Goncharenko. The Belarussian has been appointed in favour of departing manager … [Read more...]

Ural’s Great Escape

Pablo Fonatello probably deserved his long breath in the corridors of the Geolog Stadium just over a week ago. With a Terry Butcher-esque bandage still clinging to his forehead with genuine blood, sweat and tears, he slumped in the chair outside the changing rooms holding his young daughter having just put in an undisputed man-of-the-match performance to ensure Ural Ekaterinburg kept their place in the Russian Premier League. One would have forgiven him for having his mind elsewhere during the … [Read more...]