Valery Karpin and that infamous day in the summer of 1990

“When I arrived there, the team was… they had escaped relegation in the last match of the previous season. It was unthinkable what we had done in five years. It was Celta’s golden era…” - Valery Karpin (2015) Valery Karpin joined Celta de Vigo back in 1997, three years after landing in Spain to play for Real Sociedad. An excellent second season at San Sebastian with Javier Irureta’s Sociedad side worked as a stepping stone for a somewhat unconvincing one-year adventure at Valencia before … [Read more...]

The Tale of Michael Laudrup and Spartak

The past couple of seasons have seen an influx of Nordic and Scandinavian talent moving to Russian clubs. The majority of the players have been Swedish with Rasmus Elm, Kim Kallström and Pontus Wernbloom being some of the biggest names, but Iceland have also been represented by Solvi Ottesen and Ragnar Sigurdsson while Norwegian Stefan Strandberg has followed in the footsteps of Erik Hagen who played for Zenit between 2005 and 2008. Last but not least, Finland is currently represented by CSKA … [Read more...]

Emery, Laudrup & Karpin – Ten Coaches Who Failed at Spartak

Under the control of legendary Russian head coach Oleg Romantsev, Spartak Moscow won nine Russian championships as well as four Russian cups between 1992 and 2003. Furthermore, they became the first, and only, Russian team to win all six of their Champions League group stage games, when they won Group H ahead of Rosenborg, Legia Warszawa and Blackburn in 1995/96. If that wasn’t enough, the Red-Whites also reached three European semifinals; the 1990/1991 European Cup, the 1992/1993 Cup … [Read more...]

Putin’s New Sports Channel and the Controversies Surrounding It

With the new sports channel Match TV seeing daylight on the first of November this year, a revolution in the world of Russian sports TV is set to take place. Match TV was created on the direction of President Vladimir Putin and it will be a part of the Gazprom–Media holding, which also control pay-cable NTV–Plus who currently broadcast the Russian Premier League matches. The goal with the new TV-channel is to create a new public sports channel to replace Rossiya 2, who currently broadcast major … [Read more...]

The Armenian Genocide Creates Problems at Spartak Moscow

After nine months on the sideline due to an ACL injury, Spartak Moscow’s Armenian winger Aras Özbiliz returned to the normal training schedule in March this year. Özbiliz went through a surgery in September and at the end of November last year he finally returned to the training pitch to start his rehabilitation. Despite the good news, Özbiliz’s first time on the training pitch not been a success. In an interview with the Russian sports paper Sport-Express Özbiliz expressed his frustrations with … [Read more...]

Amir Natcho – Russia’s Next Superstar?

When the 18 year old Russian Amir Natcho moved to FC Barcelona’s famous youth academy, La Masia, before this season, he sought to continue a long and proud tradition of Russian midfielders in Spain’s La Liga. This tradition started in the 1990s when geniuses like Aleksandr Mostovoi and Valery Karpin impressed Spanish football fans. These days Villarreal’s Denis Cheryshev, despite his position on the wing, is keeping the tradition alive until we, hopefully, see Natcho in La Liga within the next … [Read more...]

James Appell: “Russian and English football have the same problem”

If you follow Russian football, you probably know who James Appell is, given there aren't too many foreign journalists covering and interested in Russian football. There have been interviews with him in the Russian press (he's well known in Russia). Reading it, I always thought it would be great to talk to him myself, and, probably, have an interview. The years passed, and, in the end, I found the opportunity. I heard he was coming to visit the Volga - Spartak match in Nizhny Novgorod, and … [Read more...]

From Toothless to Ruthless: How Valery Karpin Transformed Spartak

Every single fan can probably recall the warm spring night at Luzhniki last May. Boos and jeers rang around the biggest stadium in Russia, when the host drew against lowly Krylia Sovetov in what was the last game at Luzhniki before its reconstruction. The costly result against minnows almost cost them an European spot, as an entire season of finger-pointing and sacking drama continued to be a problem for Spartak. However, the complete opposite happened yesterday. They looked like a champion, … [Read more...]

Summer Special in Moscow: Spartak – Dynamo Kiev

It's been decades since they battled for top honors in the Soviet league, but Spartak - Dynamo Kiev is still an important fixture, even when it's a preseason friendly. Days in advance, 8,000-plus Muscovites bought up every available ticket for the match at Eduard Streltsov Stadium on the southeast edge of downtown Moscow. Thursday's match, the first of the four-team United Tournament, featuring Spartak, Zenit, Shakhtar and Dynamo, went to the visitors, 1-0, on an Oleg Gusev penalty in the … [Read more...]

Saying Goodbye to Luzhniki

Ever since I arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, the weather has been gorgeous. Balmy temperatures, sunshine and a cool breeze for five days now - not the type of good fortune generally associated with the Russian capital. When I left last December after a three-month stay, I think I'd seen a total of five days of sunshine during the fall. Otherwise, rain, sleet, snow, chilling winds and grey skies overhead dragged on and on and on. It was pretty foolish, then, of me to bring my jacket along to the … [Read more...]