Russia’s Race From the World Cup

We live in very strange times. In Paris, just before Christmas, I had an overpriced, underwhelming coffee with a journalist friend of mine. A political animal and child of the Brussels bureaucracy, he was in high school with me for less than two months. We connected only a year back thanks to Facebook and it was our 2nd meeting. A polyglot (he speaks 11 languages) and bibliophile he has begun to learn Russian. His first question was - "Why does Russia not want to hold the World Cup?" As … [Read more...]

5 Things We Learned About Russian Football in October

1: Slutsky’s seat is heating up Last month I wrote that Leonid Slutsky had lost his aura of invincibility, now things have got even worse for the CSKA Moscow head coach. September saw the Army Men lose both Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko, both key players, and Slutsky has obviously struggled to find a plan B without his two midfielders. The former Sbornaya boss has tried to rotate between Bibras Natcho, Astemir Gordyushenko and Aleksandr Golovin, but with no success. In October, CSKA fell … [Read more...]

RFN Podcast: State Influence, Dinamo Moscow’s Recovery And Youth Development In Russian Football

Host Thomas Giles is joined by website editor Toke Theilade and Andrew Flint. On this podcast the trio discuss the state's influence on Russian football and whether this is a good thing for the future of the game in the country. They connect this issue with the resurgence of Dinamo Moscow in the second tier after last season's relegation before talking about youth development in the country - a frequent question from listeners and … [Read more...]

Cherchesov Starts Rejuvenation Process

When Russia kick off their World Cup preparations on August 31, the squad will include several new faces. That became clear when head coach Stanislav Cherchesov announced his first squad as head of the Russian national team on Tuesday afternoon. Although Cherchesov claimed he wouldn’t revolutionize the squad when he was hired, he has made drastic changes already, and the group that face Turkey on the last night of August, and Ghana in Moscow six days later is remarkably different from Leonid … [Read more...]

Big Challenges Awaits Cherchesov

After weeks of speculation and waiting, Vitaly Mutko finally presented Russia’s next national team coach earlier this week. The choice fell on 52-year-old Stanislav Cherchesov, who led Legia Warsaw to the Polish double last season, and he has signed a two-year contract with the Russian Football Union. The Ossetian-born coach won the job ahead of Kurban Berdyev, Sergey Semak and Aleksandr Borodyuk, who all had meetings with Mutko as well, and the goals set for Cherchesov and Sbornaya are enormous … [Read more...]

Friendly Game to Help Restore Russian-Turkish Relations

After months of hostility, the governments of Russia and Turkey recently began normalizing their relationship and restoring the ties that were destroyed when a Russian jet intruded Turkish airspace in November, with Turkish troops later shooting it down and killing the pilot. As proof of the restoration of relations, a friendly match between the two countries’ national teams has been arranged for the end of this month, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President, is expected to invite his … [Read more...]

Russian Dream Team – Martin and Roy

  Some years ago wokring on a project with Spartak, I suggested to, then, General Director Valeri Karpin that they hire Roy Keane. This was the week after they fired, according to supporters and owners, a "useless coach". The fact that the useless coach is now heading up the Qatar-Platini project in PSG shows more about Spartak's stability and vision than about Unai Emery. Last week I re-visited the idea when talking with a Russian football official, but with a twist. Last week it … [Read more...]

Mario Fernandes – Sbornaya’s Latest Brazilian

When Brazilian born Guilherme Alvim Marinato, better known as Guilherme, played 45 minutes for Russia against Lithuania in March, he became the first player born outside of the former Soviet Union to play for Sbornaya. On Wednesday another Brazilian, CSKA’s Mario Fernandes, received Russian citizenship as well, but this is also where the similarities between the two ends. Because while Lokomotiv Moscow goalkeeper Guilherme went the long way through the official channels, learning Russian and … [Read more...]

The Foreigner Limit and Exorbitant Parties in Monte Carlo

Russia’s poor performances at the Euros have naturally given birth to a large amount of soul searching and discussion about the state of Sbornaya and why it continues to fail on the biggest stage. More than 860,000 people have already signed a petition at social activism website Change.org to disband the national team, while president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) Vitaly Mutko, who is also the Russian sports minister, has expressed a wish to revamp the team, and build it around players … [Read more...]

Who Can Play for Russia at the 2018 World Cup?

Vitaly Mutko, Russian sports minister and president of the Russian Football Union (RFU), wasn’t happy after Russia’s 3-0 defeat to Wales in the final fixtures of the EURO group stage. “As I said before the game, our team’s performance will demonstrate the real level of our football,” Mutko said. “And that’s precicely what happened. This only means such is the level of our football and we must work at it. Also we must admit there are no top-rate players in our team today and that’s the … [Read more...]