EURO 2016 Player Profile: Igor Smolnikov

Introduction: Igor Smolnikov is probably the greatest example of someone who has fought for success since the beginning of his career. Coming through the ranks at Lokomotiv’s academy, Smolnikov quickly stood out as a great football player. However, the Railway Men never trusted the young defender. Hence, firstly he was sent on loan to archrivals Torpedo, where he spent a successful season in the FNL, before later playing for several provincial clubs like Ural, Chita and Zhemchuzhina Sochi in … [Read more...]

Slutsky’s Choice Part II: Defenders

In our second part of 'Slutsky's Choice' (Read part one here), we look at Russia’s backline. Historically, one of the stronger assets on the field, it has kept cohesion within the team during periods that lacked success. During the 1990s as Soviet players steadily retired, the back line featuring Viktor Onopko and Yuri Nikiforov helped Russia reach the 1994 World Cup and Euro 1996. The next generation of defenders, Sergei Ignashevich, and Denis Kolodin brought more success as they heroically … [Read more...]

Zhirkov to Zenit?

Rumours have recently been circling around that former Chelsea and current Dinamo Moscow left back Yuri Zhirkov is set to join Russian Premier League champions Zenit St. Petersburg. The rumour seems rather an odd one as the 32 year old is hardly the sort of player that is likely to help Zenit rescue the title that is quickly slipping from their grasp. Zenit already have Domenico Criscito as their first choice left back and his excellent form in recent years has meant his Argentine understudy … [Read more...]

RFN Top 50 – 20-11

  The players ranked 50-36. The players ranked 35-21. 20. Bibras Natcho, midfielder, CSKA The Israeli midfielder Bibras Natcho played a pivotal role on CSKA’s team last season as he contributed with 12 goals and eight assists in the domestic league. His form earned him a spot on the RFN Team of the Year last summer together with his partner on CSKA’s central midfield Roman Eremenko. This season has however been different for Natcho, who has struggled with getting back on his old … [Read more...]

Preview: Russia – Montenegro

After defeating Moldova on Friday, Russia appear to have taken a major step towards next summer’s show piece in France. The victory in Chisinau puts Russia in second place with 17 points, eight behind group leaders Austria. To qualify for next summer's Euro, Russia needs just one point against Montenegro, as they have the superior goal difference against Sweden after beating them 1-0 in Moscow last month. Having started nervously in Chisinau, Russia quickly dominated during the second half. … [Read more...]