Sebastian Driussi – Zenit’s New Lion

It’s the middle of May, and it is time for the Superclásico, the Argentinean derby between Boca Juniors and River Plate. One of the biggest games in the world. Going into the game, which is played at Boca's historic home ground La Bombonero, the home team leads the league with River trailing behind. River head coach Marcelo Gallardo has pointed his focus on the Copa Libertadores, and the results in the league have suffered as a result. Nevertheless, they began climbing up the table, and reached … [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...]

Viktor Fayzulin’s Trip Through Injury Hell

80 minutes into the game against Amkar Perm on September 20, 2015, Viktor Fayzulin had to leave the pitch with an injury. The now 31-year-old midfielder was clearly in pain and was replaced by Artur Yusupov. The injury was a hard blow for Fayzulin, who had only just recovered from a long-term injury, but assistant coach Sergey Semak was optimistic after the game, stating that Fayzulin “was fine”. Shortly after, Leonid Slutsky even called him up for a game with the national team, proving that … [Read more...]

Goodbye Dzyuba? How Driussi’s Arrival at Zenit Could Mean the End for the Big Man

An unexpected sting in the tail, tension, end to end entertainment and a late goal to secure victory; it is fair to say that Roberto Mancini’s home debut as Zenit Saint Petersburg manager on matchday two of the Russian Football Premier League did not disappoint. Despite falling behind just before half time to Kurban Berdyev’s Rubin Kazan - thanks in no small part to a poor piece of defending by Zenit’s Portuguese defender Luis Neto - the team from Piter turned it around with an injury time … [Read more...]

Lucescu – Failure or Scapegoat?

After a third-place finish last season, which meant Zenit St. Petersburg missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row, they sacked Romanian head coach Mircea Lucescu after just one season at the club. The baggage left behind by his predecessor André Villas-Boas was no gift. If from a distance, say in Lucescu’s previous home Donetsk for example, it looked attractive and manageable, then only when you get closer could you begin to see the clear signs of aging and where … [Read more...]

The Retirement of St. Petersburg’s Prodigal Son, Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Nothing warms the hearts of football fans like seeing a local lad ‘come good’ for his boyhood club. Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool red. Fransesco Totti turning out in Roma’s claret and gold. In an increasingly disloyal game these flashes of tribal faith resonate. They offer glimmers of hope in a sport too often darkened by cynicism. Beyond the obvious visual appeal of homegrown talent flying the hometown flag is something deeper and more valuable. But to journey to the heart of this phenomenon … [Read more...]

Russian Transfers – Homeward Bound

Each year we read the same nonsense with Russian transfers. XXXX is on the way to an English or German club. It's a done deal. It's in the final stages. A month ago CSKA Moscow's Golovin was about to join Arsenal. That was June 10th. Three days later the same news outlet reported Arsenal's Russian scout, Pavel Kucherov, said He is not talented enough for the European level and it’s unrealistic to discuss his transfer to a top Premier League club. Fanboys and journos went into overdrive with a … [Read more...]

Season Preview: Zenit St. Petersburg

When André Villas-Boas left Zenit at the end of the 2015/16 season, he was replaced by the man who had turned Shakhtar Donetsk into the dominant force of Ukrainian football, Mircea Lucescu. The Romanian even managed to win a trophy in his first official match at the club, as his side beat CSKA Moscow in the Russian Super Cup. This, however, turned out to be the only silverware Zenit would win all season, as they crashed out of the Europa League in the Round of 32, missed out on Champions League … [Read more...]

Season Preview: FC Rostov

What a difference 12 months makes. Last summer, Rostov were flying higher than they’d ever done before having qualified for their first Champions League campaign and only missed out on the title by a single goal, with arguably Russian football’s best tactician masterminding success from the sidelines. Fast forward to 2017, and their entire project is crumbling to pieces; 13 players (at the time of writing) have left the club, Kurban Berdyev has returned to his former home in the Rubin Kazan, and … [Read more...]

The €12m Men and Their Free Transfers to Zenit

€7 million and €5 million. That, according to Transfermarkt, is the value of Dmitry Poloz and Aleksandr Erokhin. Of course, this is an underestimation given the circumstances on the Russian market. Two Russian internationals, who have just finished the season of their careers with FC Rostov, with two more years left of their contract can’t cost that little, given the limit on foreign players and the lack of quality players with Russian passport. Nevertheless, there is only one club in the … [Read more...]