Football Manager 2018 – Which Russian Club Should You Play With?

The latest edition of everyone's favourite football management game, Football Manager 2018, is now out. At RFN, we have a number of big fans of the series and will continue our tradition of producing our own custom update for the Russian leagues, hopefully out later this month. But when this update is out, who should you manage? Here at RFN we could justify managing every club in Russia in one way or another, but to keep this short, we will name just five potential challenges. Update: Our … [Read more...]

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...]

Europa League Preview: Rosenborg BK – Zenit St. Petersburg

Until recently Roberto Mancini had been totting up the wins in a relatively care-free fashion. His team sat happily atop of the Russian Football Premier League and boasted a perfect 100% win record in the Europa League group stage. Now, something no longer appears to add up; Zenit have failed to win in their last four domestic outings, and the latest 3-0 defeat saw the victors Lokomotiv Moscow emphatically dislodge Zenit from first place. The first game against Rosenborg BK came in the middle … [Read more...]

RIP Konstantin Sarsania, the Sports Director Behind Zenit’s Success

Saturday morning the Russian football world was met with both shocking and tragic news as Zenit St. Petersburg announced that sports director Konstantin Sarsania had passed away aged just 49. The news surprised everybody as Sarsania hadn’t previously been sick, and the news truly came out of nowhere. The reason, it turned out, was thrombosis, explaining why his health deteriorated so quickly. Sunday morning, Sarsania’s old friend Roman Oretsuk, a well-known Russian football agent, told the … [Read more...]

Aleksandr Kokorin’s Reformed Character

Is there a finer sight in football than the sudden, late blooming of a player believed to be lost forever? A bud thought never to open that reveals its brilliance just as winter approaches. What can be more heartening than the reminder that a player’s potential is never truly wasted until the final whistle of their final game? It is, after all, confirmation that no judgments can be passed or epitaphs penned until a career has concluded. That said, such reveals are scarce and most player’s … [Read more...]

Europa League Preview: Zenit St. Petersburg – Real Sociedad

Thursday sees Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St. Petersburg host La Liga outfit Real Sociedad in their second match of the Europa League group stage, with both sides coming into this on the back of heavy victories in match day one. While Zenit are experiencing some strong domestic form of late (unbeaten this season, on the back of 6 successive clean sheets) Sociedad have lost their last three La Liga matches since their opening Europa League victory. Roberto Mancini was quick however … [Read more...]

Everything you Need To Know About: Zenit St Petersburg

After a relatively fallow few years in the transfer market, Zenit are back in business just in time to christen their spectacular new home at the Krestovsky Arena. Five Argentinians and five Rostov players have joined over the summer under new boss Roberto Mancini as a total of 27 players passed through the revolving doors in St Petersburg, and after an unbeaten domestic record so far there are very few who will bet against them winning silverware next summer. They may have made heavy work of … [Read more...]

Europa League Preview: Zenit Saint Petersburg – FC Utrecht

First Playoff Round, Second Leg: Can Mancini's Stars Overturn the Deficit? Zenit will go into the Second Leg of their Europa League tie with Utrecht trailing, after a disappointing performance last week in Holland. Zakaria Labyad's second half header was well deserved for the home side, who troubled Zenit throughout. If Zenit does lose the tie, it will be a disaster for the Saint Petersburg side, after spending €81.3 on transfers thus far this window, including the signing of Emiliano Rigoni, … [Read more...]

New Stadia’s Impact on Attendances in the RFPL

Low attendances in the RFPL have been the subject of much debate and despair. People have put forth many different reasons for the poor league attendance, which has hovered around 11,000 per match for the last few years. In comparison, the Bundesliga averages 41,000 per match, and the English Premier League averages 35,000 per match. Some say that the quality of the league is too low, while others, including then-Sbornaya coach Leonid Slutsky, claim that Russia is simply not a footballing … [Read more...]

Giuliano: Zenit St Petersburg’s Ephemeral Star

Giuliano Victor de Paula’s presence came to grace St Petersburg briefly; after only one full season with Zenit, he has now been sold to Fenerbahçe in Turkey. Despite a highly successful year in Russia which saw the Brazilian’s market value increase almost twofold, he appears to have left for the same modest €7m he arrived for. Mircea Lucescu’s star player found himself not especially needed under Roberto Mancini, and the fact, not least the manner of his departure, undoubtedly leaves some fans … [Read more...]