RFPL Mid-Season Review – Part Four

As we are at the halfway stage of the 2017/18 season, it is now time to look at the season so far and how it has transpired for each RFPL member club. This mid-season review will look at the pre-season expectations for each club based on their squad and summer signings, cross-referencing with last season's performance and reputation. Then deducing whether or not each club is achieving its pre-season goals so far this season, the comparative high and low points so far for each club, expectations … [Read more...]

FC Ufa – How To Run a Small Club in Russia

When FC Ufa was promoted to the Premier League (RFPL) in 2014, they were one of the smallest sides in history to make the top flight. Having only existed since 2010, it took them just three seasons to rise from Professional Football League (PFL), the third tier, to the top flight, though many predicted it would not last long. How could a side like Ufa last in a league dominated by elite teams? The answer lies not just on the pitch, but behind the scenes.   At Europe's End Ufa is one of … [Read more...]

RFPL 2017/2018 – Who Has the Best Kit?

SKA-Khabarovsk Premier Liga newcomers, like some other teams, decided not to bother and use last year's kits. They probably figured that nobody saw it last season anyway, as the coverage of the FNL is almost criminally low. The kit itself is nothing special, but there is nothing to criticize either. I personally like their massive badge, which looks appropriate on this empty T-shirt. FC Tosno The club from the Leningrad Oblast, founded in 2013, still hasn't built its own identity. … [Read more...]

Season Preview: FC Ufa

Last season, FC Ufa achieved the highest league finish in the club’s history, as they surprised everyone to finish 7th place. A club with modest resources and a small squad, excellent management from two top young coaches, Viktor Goncharenko and Sergey Semak was key to their achievement. Operating with a 5-3-2 or 5-4-1, they were often a thorn in the side of the larger teams, using their excellent defensive co-oridination and lightning quick counter attacks, spearheaded by Kehinde Fatai, to … [Read more...]

Sergey Semak and the Bashkortostan Challenge

Going into the winter break in 8th place in the RFPL, just three points behind Terek Grozny in 4th, FC Ufa could be very satisfied with the first half of the season. The team from Bashkortostan managed to defeat both Spartak and Lokomotiv in Moscow, while also holding Zenit St. Petersburg to a 0-0 draw at the beginning of the season, and they are no longer the pushovers we have seen in the previous two seasons, where they finished just above the relegation line. A fact that becomes even more … [Read more...]

Ones To Watch – Igor Bezdenezhnykh

Biography Name: Igor Bezdenezhnykh DOB/Age: 08/08/1996 – 20 years old Club: FC Ufa Position: Central midfield Nationality: Russia Career so far Igor Bezdenezhnykh has spent his entire career in his home city of Ufa, graduating through several youth teams before joining his cities biggest club, FC Ufa. As a 17 year old, Bezdenezhnykh made Ufa’s match day squad numerous times in their promotion season from the FNL, although he failed to make an appearance. His reward for impressive … [Read more...]

Chisamba Lungu Player Watch

Ural have seen some of their key creative talents leave the club over the last few weeks, but it seems the answer has been with them all along. Key to their comfortable 2-0 win over Ufa today was the transformation of Zambian flier Chisamba Lungu, who for the vast majority of his six-year career in Russia has been deployed as an out and out winger, but today was given a free role by head coach Vadim Skripchenko. Ufa head coach Viktor Goncharenko cut a forlorn figure on the touchline, … [Read more...]

Three Rounds Left – The fight to escape the RFPL drop

With three matches left to play, tension at the wrong end of the Russian Premier League has reached breaking point. If no team’s fate is sealed this mid-week, this coming weekend promises to be the most nerve wrenching affair with the bottom six all due to play one another. Five seasons back when the league underwent their restructuring to fall into line with the European season schedule (Autumn-Spring), the relegation playoffs were introduced to add an extra dimension to the domestic end of … [Read more...]

Oleksandr Zinchenko – Guardiola’s First Man City Signing?

As Konstantin Evgrafov wrote on Russian Football News in February, you rarely see players from small Russian clubs exchange the RFPL for fashionable destinations in Europe, but that could change soon, as Ufa’s 19-year-old midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko is linked with several major European clubs after an impressive season in Ufa’s red and white kit. The Ukrainian midfielder is a product of Shakhtar Donetsk’s youth academy, but joined Ufa on a free transfer in February last year. However, as … [Read more...]

Oleksandr Zinchenko: An Analysis from Ural v Ufa

At the precocious age of 19  Oleksandr Zinchenko is one of the most talented assets of the Russian Premier League, and it seems increasingly likely that his career at Ufa will not last beyond this summer. His departure would be a virtual certainty if the league's youngest club end up relegated, and with only eight games left to lift themselves out of the drop zone time is not on their side. If he were to depart, there is a strong likelihood he would consider moving away from Russia after he was … [Read more...]