Friday, May 15, 2009

Russian Premier League Preview: Matchday 9

Pryvet (Hello) and Da-bro pa-zha- la-vat (Welcome) to the Russian Premier League Preview.

The clash between CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg features as the headline act during Matchday 9 of the RPL.

The top four:
Rubin Kazan 17pts, CSKA Moscow 16pts, Zenit and FC Moscow 15pts, Spartak Moscow 13pts.

Bottom two:
Saturn Moscow 5pts, Khimki 2pts.

Top Goal Scorers:
Dominguez (Rubin Kazan) and Wellington (Spartak Moscow) five goals, Pavel Pogrebniak (Zenit) four goals.

Fixtures Matchday 9 (all kick off times GMT)

Saturday, May 16

9:00 Amkar Perm'- Rubin Kazan

11:15 Lokomotiv Moscow- Terek Grozny

13:30 Rostov-Na-Donu - Spartak Nalchik

16:00 FC Khimki- FC Moscow

Sunday, May 17

9:30 Tom' Tomsk - Spartak Moscow

12:00 Kryliya Sovetov(Samara) - Kuban Krasnodar

14:30 Saturn Moscow - Dynamo Moscow

17:00 CSKA Moscow - Zenit St Petersburg


Amkar Perm' - Rubin Kazan

Amkar Perm where unlucky to lose right at the death away to Terek last week. Meanwhile, current RPL champions Rubin had some time to practise their shooting as they easily beat Tom Tomsk 4-0 last week.

Rubin Kazan will face CSKA Moscow in the final of the Russian cup. Former Tottenham flop and current Kazan player, Serhiy Rebrov, spoke about the ensuing final and Rubin’s looming Champions League matches

"The Champions League is the competition that doesn’t need to be advertised and our club doesn’t have to attract people to the stadium because interest of our fans is already guaranteed," he said to Sport Express.

“Supporters will come to Kazan from the all closest regions. When I played in Kyiv, Dynamo’s matches in the Champions League attracted people from Russia and from other Ukrainian cities.

"Kazan is much smaller than Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kyiv, but just look how many high-class teams we have! I think that supporters will like our football.

"Rubin will also compete for the Russian Cup with CSKA and of course I am eager to win the trophy. In general it would be strange if Rubin doesn’t claim for any serious title because we are the current champions and we are sure of our power."

All things being equal, top of the table Rubin should get the victory fixture over13th placed Amkar.

However, Russian football is known for its difficult away trips. Rubin have to travel to the Ural Mountains to face Amkar in Perm.

Perm was formally known as Molotov - as in the 'cocktail' - until 1957.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Amkar Perm – DWLLD
Points: 7 Position: 13th

Rubin Kazan - WWLWW
Points: 17 Position: 1st

Lokomotiv Moscow - Terek Grozny

The Railwaymen have had their wheels come off somewhat this season, with only one win in their past five games.Last week Lokomtiv drew with FC Moscow 0-0, ending Moscow's winning streak in the RPL at four games.

Terek got a good result, managing to salvage a point late against Amkar Perm.Twice RPL champions Lokomotiv should be favourites for this game as they have home advantage and Terek, who are the only Chechen team in the RPL, will hope the referee is not the main talking point.“We don’t pay attention to referees’ strange attitude to Terek anymore, but we are not going to give up," the Terek coach quipped to Sports Express.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Lokomotiv Moscow – LDLWD
Points: 10 Position: 10th

Terek Grozny - LLDLD
Points: 9 Position: 11th

FC Rostov - Spartak Nalchik

Spartak Nalchick travel to the wide leafy streets and scattered parks of Rostov on Don this weekend.The giant killers of Rostov came crashing back to earth last week after beating CSKA and Zenit in their two previous gamesLast time out the Dons only played out a dour 0-0 draw with Kuban Krasnador.

Spartak Nalchick also served up a 0-0 draw in their last match, which was away to Khimki. For the sake of the fans, one of these teams has to score a goal.Otherwise both fans will be staring at the Don River thinking of Mikhail Sholokhov's novel, Civil War: "And quiet flows the Don and the Don flows home to the sea."

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Rostov-Na -Donu - LDWWD
Points: 13, Position: 7th

Spartak Nalchik – DLWLD
Points: 6 Position: 14th

FC Khimki - FC Moscow

FC Khimki are staring up at the others unmoved from bottom spot.In the league, FC Moscow were on a four game winning streak before they drew 0-0 with city rivals Lokomtiv.The trip to Khimki in the Moscow Oblast region should see the away team victorious.Khimki, which is famous for aerospace development centres, will hope to blast off the bottom some time soon.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

FC Khimki - LLLDD
Points: 3 Position: 16th

FC Moscow – WWWWD
Points: 15, Position: 4th


Tom' Tomsk - Spartak Moscow

There was some speculation this week that benched Spartak goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa could move to another club in the summer.

His manger, Marko Naletilic, stated,

“He has found himself on the bench in recent matches... his position as the first-choice goalkeeper has been out of question during several seasons. It’s clear that his switch to the reserves has been caused by the limits on foreigners in the Russian championship, but it doesn’t console us.”

The RPL has a limit that only six foreign players can be on the field for any one team at any time.

Spartak travel to Siberia to play in the university town of Tomsk. Last week’s 4-0 thrashing of the Aliens of Saturn Moscow will still be fresh in their minds.

Tom Tomsk suffered the same scoreline against Rubin, only the Siberian climate will save Tom Tomsk in this one.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Tom Tomsk - DWLWL
Points: 10 Position: 9th

Spartak Moscow – LWWLW
Points: 13 Position: 5th

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - Kuban Krasnodar

There was good news this week for Krylya Sovetov. Having finished sixth in the RPL last year, they will play in the Europa League next season thanks to FC Moscow’s loss to Rubin in the Russian Cup semi-final. Sport Express reported on the reaction of excited Krylya Sovetov general director Yuri Makeev:

“A place in the Euro cups is not only a reason for happiness, but also a serious responsibility,” he said. “First of all we are planning to strengthen our attack and defence. Our headhunters have three candidates for each position.”

The 'Kubantsy', as the Kuban fans are known, will travel to Samara to face Kryliya Sovetov on the banks of the lazy Volga River. In summertime, this area is frequented by bathing beauties, in-line skaters and beer drinkers.

After a short spell leading the RPL, Kryliya Sovetov have suffered two consecutive losses.The canaries of Kuban Krasnodar have not won in their last two outings either.The home team will be looking for a win to get their season back on track while the Kubansty will be looking to get clear of the bottom two relegation places.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:

Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - WDWLL
Points: 13 Position: 6th

FC Kuban Krasnodar - DLWDD
Points: 9, Position: 12th

Saturn Moscow - Dynamo Moscow

A Moscow derby of sorts takes place as the Aliens of Saturn take on Dynamo. There were some interesting developments from both teams this week as the two clubs look to make changes for the future. Yesterday, Saturn appointed a new general director of the club, Igor Efremov, who previously headed the Moscow region football federation. Efremov takes over after previous director Boris Zhiganov announced his retirement.

The Aliens plan to make some coaching changes, with the future of the head coach Jurgen Rober to be probed. Sport Express reported on two candidates who could replace Rober; they are the youth team head coach Andrey Gordeev and sporting director Dmitry Galyamin.

Meanwhile, Dynamo go into this game fresh from being dumped out of the Russian cup by CSKA and are looking to prepare for next season's Champions League Dynamo general director Dmitry Ivanov spoke to Sport Express after the loss:

"Of course it’s a pity to suffer a loss in the shootout series, since it’s a lottery," he lamented"At the same time it’s pleasant that our players didn’t give up after failing in the first half and showed worthy play after the interval."

The Champions League qualifying round begins in less than two-and-a-half-months and Ivanov has about 15 players he is looking at. He was also concerned about getting enough players before the July 23 deadline.

"We understand that Dynamo's line-up requires strengthening by acquiring new players and we are searching for suitable variants now," he explained.

“According to the UEFA regulations, we can do it until July 23 and we are allowed to add only those players who are included to our roster in the Russian championship. However, the opening day when we can add new players to the team in Premier League is August 3!" he claimed.

“A couple of months ago we applied to the Russian Football Union asking to clear this situation, but we haven’t received the answer yet. "We have already outlined the list of possible candidates, which includes 15 players.”The future can wait as the Aliens will do well to get something out of a game Dynamo will hope to win.

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
The Aliens – DLDLL
Points: 5 Position: 15th

Dynamo Moscow –WLLWL
Points: 12 Position: 5th

CSKA Moscow - Zenit St. Petersburg
Coached by Brazilian legend Zico, CSKA Moscow have had some excellent results of late. They are in the final of the Russian Cup after beating Dynamo in midweek and they are also sitting high in the RPL ladder, only one point behind leaders Rubin Kazan.

CSKA president Evgeny Giner spoke to Sport Express after the Army Men beat Dynamo for the second time in a week - the 2-1 league win over their old city rivals proceeding their victory in their cup semi-final, which they won 6-5 on penalties after a dramatic 2-2 draw.

"We knew that the second match with Dynamo in four days would turn out to be tense because at this stage of the tournament it can’t be otherwise. Dynamo is a good and well-organised team. Our challengers fought their best but it was CSKA who paved their way to the final match," the director said

The president also spoke about strengthening his squad for the next Champion’s League campaign:

"Today I assess our readiness for the coming Champions League campaign as not more than 65-70 per cent. First of all we are just starting the season. The situation will be quite different in the autumn. I can’t say who could leave us in summer transfer window.

"I keep in contact with the managers of Europe’s top clubs. It just happened that Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Chelsea executive director Peter Kenyon and Bayern [Munich] general manager Uli Hoeness praised our players, and sometimes somebody asked us whether we are ready to let them go,” Giner said.

Last but not least, the final game of Matchday 9 features second-placed CKSA Moscow taking on third-placed Zenit.Who will win the bragging rights as the historical cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg fight it out for Russian football supremacy?

Form Guide - Last Five Games:
Points: 16 Position: 2nd

Zenit St. Petersburg - DDWLW
Points: 15 Position: 3rd

Spasiba (thank-you) for reading the RPL preview, enjoy the weekend’s football and dasvidania (goodbye).

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