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Russian football column: Zenit’s obvious tactics, Musa continues to impress & more


A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World. Firat Aktav analyses and gives his opinion here on the talking points in Turkish football.


Zenit’s obvious tactics are met with mixed results

Zenit St Petersburg recovered from their early first half capitulation to fight back from a two goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw away to FK Krasnodar at Kuban Stadium; weakening their domestic vice-like grip to two points. The deadlock was broken eight minutes into the tie, when Icelandic centre-back Ragnar Sigurosson snatched onto a deflected shot inside the box. An excellent piece of individual skill by Ari set up Pavel Mamayev for a clever finish on the 21st minute to add to the lead. That lead didn’t prove insurmountable as Javi Garcia capitalised for Zenit on an awry clearence, and a sublime left-footed strike on the back of two step overs by Hulk leveled the tie. The league leaders’ tactical approach was obvious from the onset as they tried to exploit the wide areas, particularly the left side to cross the ball into the box, and attempted to play a number of long passes, with mixed results.  This hiccup has seen Andre Villas-Boas’ side’s lead at the top of the table drop to two points.


CSKA Moscow and Rubin Kazan romp to big wins

One of the more eye-catching performances of the weekend  was 2nd placed CSKA Moscow’s 6-0 demolition of 4th placed Kuban Krasnodar in a one-sided encounter.  The scoreline was a fair reflection of a match, in which Krasno-sinie had a spectacular conversion rate of 50%; a total of 12 shots, with eight of those coming in Krasnodar’s penalty area. A second half defensive calamity didn’t go unpunished as the champions showed no mercy by scoring 4 second half goals. The mercurial Ahmed Musa was undoubtedly the star of the show scoring a brace (13th and 70th minute) and adding an assist in the process. Seydou Doumbia came on as a substitute to add two goals in the last five minutes of the game (85th and 90th minute), with the remaining goals coming way of Roman Eremenko (17th minute) and Igor Armas OG (69th minute). The impressive result has seen 2nd placed CSKA Moscow further increase the pressure on Zenit.

After a disappointing start to the season, Rubin Kazan made an emphatic statement with a 5-0 win over Mordovia Saransk at the Kazan Arena. Their attractive short passing approach fared well against the struggling opposition with a large portion of their game spent in Mordovia’s half. This was instrumental in Rubin Kazan having 22 shots, 9 of which were on target. The patient build-up play through short passing was key to the win, with 426 of 498 of their total passes counted as short; this helped them expose and attack the flanks. 25 year-old Igor Portnyagin’s low right footed strike (11th minute) crept through for the first goal of the game, and the score remained 1-0 until after the interval. The attacking dominance overcame Mardovia’s defense in the last 45 minutes, after Maksim Kanunnikov connected on the set piece with a well timed header (70th minute), and then goals from Gokdeniz Karadeniz ( 79th and 85th minute) and Carlos Eduardo (81st minute) completed the rout. The much needed victory brings Rubin Kazan within 3 points of the top 4 and leaves Mordovia Saransk in 11th place.


FK Rostov and Arsenal Tula share the spoils in an intense encounter

In perhaps an affair of less grandiose, the Russian Premier League’s bottom two teams faced off in an intense encounter. FK Rostov dominated the possession with 57%, and also proved to be more efficient in the air with an aerial success of 65% to Arsenal Tula’s 35%. The two clubs have both had a less than auspicious start with Selmashi manager Miodrag Bozovic resigning in September after the team crashed out of the Russian Cup ( a trophy they won the previous season) by virtue of a demoralizing defeat against third-tier Syzran-2003, and the red-yellows having yet to record a win this season.  Arsenal Tula went ahead in the 33rd minute thanks to a goal from Alexsandr Bukharov, and that was enough to see them to halftime with a valuable lead ; however 12 minutes into the second half FK Rostov fired home a much needed equaliser through a Artur Maloyan header in the 57th minute. The errors committed by the away side cost them the three points as the final result finished 1-1, with both sides remaining at the bottom of the league.


Talent Radar player of the week

As we move onto our Talent Radar Player of the Week, we have a few nominees, but Rubin Kazan’s 19 year-old left back Elmir Nabiullin claims the honors after his impressive performance in the 5-0 win against Mordovia Saransk. The young defender was present throughout the game and was a terrorizer down the left side, and recorded an assist. Nabiullin remains one of the most exciting talents in Russian football at the moment.


Written by Andy Woods

Andy Woods

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