Russian Football

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2013-14 Matchweek 25 Recap: Predictable results all around

No results this weekend were particularly shocking, with the most notable being Lokomotiv's draw with Anzhi, which was basically to be expected given the recent form of both of these teams. Just a note on my selections for team of the week: it was ridiculously difficult to pick which central defenders to include. My shortlist ultimately included 9 names(Vedran Corluka, Ali Gadzhibekov, Saba Kvirkvelia, Xandao, Christopher Samba, Salvatore Bocchetti, Vladimir Rykov, Dmitri Belorukov and Thomas Phibel) in a week of great defensive performances.

Also, the formation editor is playing up yet again, so this week's team is Belenov; Fernandes, Xandao, Samba, Phibel, Granat; Sheshukov, Ivanov; Hulk, Ailton, Kasaev.

Spartak 1-0 Krylia

Yura Movsisyan scored for Spartak after just 14 minutes to give the hosts the lead, and a combination of their good play and Krylia's profligacy kept the visitors scoreless for the remainder of the match. Krylia had a good patch where they looked dangerous mid way through the second half, but nothing came of it.

Tomsk 0-0 Amkar
Tomsk and Amkar were even for most of their match, with both sides having a plethora of chances, but both defences were typically solid. As per usual, the best players on both of these teams were the centre backs.

CSKA 1-0 Ural
Similarly to the Spartak-Krylia match, it was an early goal that decided the outcome, with Ahmed Musa scoring the winner in the 17th minute. CSKA looked like much the better side, but also came close to conceding on a number of occasions to give them a much nervier win than they were expecting.

Terek 3-0 Rostov

This match was ridiculously chaotic, with three penalties given and two red cards dished out. Mauricio opened the scoring for Terek with the first penalty of the match, before Rostov saw Guelor Kanga Kaku dismissed and Ailton added a second for the hosts. Terek were brought down to ten men when Rizvan Utsiev was sent off for a second yellow, but Ailton was able to add a third with another penalty. Artem Dzyuba had a chance to pull one back late in the match with yet another penalty, but Yaroslav Godzyur saved his weak effort.

Zenit 4-1 Krasnodar

Hulk opened the scoring early, but Joaozinho was able to equalise right after half time. Hulk then restored Zenit's lead and ultimately scored a hat-trick after Salomon Rondon added Zenit's third. Realistically, Zenit could have scored even more, but were restricted by Andrei Sinitsyn.

Lokomotiv 0-0 Anzhi
Anzhi were the inferior team, but were kept in it by the excellent Mikhail Kerzhakov, and the match ended with a dull scoreline as a result of his fantastic performance.

Rubin 0-2 Kuban
Lorenzo Melgarejo and Gigel Bucur scored with two of the only chances that Kuban had, while Rubin ran riot but were kept out almost solely by the efforts of Aleksandr Belenov, who made 11 saves over the course of the match.

Volga 0-5 Dynamo
Volga held out until half time, but then got absolutely overran by Dynamo's excellent second half performance, inspired by Alan Kasaev and Vladimir Granat in particular.


Table:
1 - Zenit
2 - Lokomotiv
3 - CSKA
4 - Dynamo
5 - Spartak
6 - Krasnodar
7 - Amkar
8 - Rostov
9 - Kuban
10 - Rubin
11 - Terek
12 - Krylia
13 - Ural
14 - Tomsk
15 - Volga
16 - Anzhi

Monday, April 14, 2014

Volga 0-5 Dynamo: Dynamo bounce back from Anzhi defeat by steamrolling Volga

Dynamo put on a magnificent second half performance to continue Volga's losing streak and bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Anzhi last weekend.

Neither side lined up particularly oddly, with the most interesting decision being the continued inclusion of Georgi Gabulov in Dynamo's goal over Anton Shunin and Roman Berezovskiy. Dynamo also continued to field Aleksei Ionov on the left to account for Yuri Zhirkov's injury.

football formationsVolga started incredibly well, controlling possession and pushing well up the pitch for the first seven minutes or so, before Dynamo finally fired themselves up and got into the game. The middle stretch of the half was dominated by the visitors, and Kuranyi had a decent penalty shout turned down in the 19th minute. Ionov came close with a low shot shortly after that, but Volga worked their way back into contention with the half winding down, managing to limit their opposition's time on the ball and forcing several errors in Dynamo's back four. Dynamo did get one final chance when the ball fell for Aleksei Kozlov on the edge of the Volga box, but he fired high and wide. It was the last major chance of the half and both sides went into the interval scoreless.

The second half started much the same way that the first had, with Volga playing well in the opening minutes, but the wind was taken out of their sails when Aleksandr Kokorin scored Dynamo's first in the 53rd minute. He played Balazs Dzsudzsak through, allowing the Hungarian to send a cross back in and Kokorin headed home from the edge of the six yard box. Volga did manage to hold on for a short while longer before Dynamo scored a flurry of late goals to turn a narrow win into an utter demolition. Artur Nigmatullin saved a Vladimir Granat free kick, but the ball fell to substitute Artur Yusupov, who fired home to double Dynamo's lead. Just two minutes later, Aleksei Ionov sent a cross in for Alan Kasaev, who finished coolly. Christopher Samba made it 4-0 with a clone of Yusupov's goal before Christian Noboa cut the ball back to Alan Kasaev for his second of the match. Ultimately the scoreline doesn't really represent how even the first 50 minutes of the game were, but Dynamo will be happy to have bounced back with such a result.

Man of the Match: Alan Kasaev
Kasaev came off the bench and scored Dynamo's third and fifth goals. That's really all that needs to be said about his performance.

Honourable Mentions:
Aleksandr Kokorin - The 22 year old was dangerous all match and kicked off the scoring with a solid header before being substituted.
Vladimir Granat - Both of the set piece goals came from Granat free kicks being deflected into the path of an onrushing player, so the left back was a crucial part in inflating the scoreline.

Notes:
- This game was pretty back and forth up until Kokorin's goal, and Volga even managed to keep in it for a while afterwards, but they were torn apart by Dynamo's second and third goals and it was pretty clear to see that they gave up after that.
- Aleksandr Kokorin seems to take a huge beating every single match. I can't really explain it.
- Artur Nigmatullin's handling really desperately needs some work. He was directly at fault for both set piece goals.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2013-14 Matchweek 24 Recap: Anzhi shock Dynamo while Zenit obliterate Rubin

This week in the RPL, Spartak continued their abysmal streak, Zenit overran Rubin and Anzhi shocked Dynamo with an incredible home performance, among other less surprising results.

football formationsKuban 2-0 Tomsk
Kuban were predictably the better side, but struggled to get through Tomsk's surprisingly stern defence. Igor Armas put on a clinic, saving a certain goal early on before putting Kuban in front with 25 minutes to go. Ivelin Popov followed it up just a few minutes from full time to kill off the game.

Spartak 0-1 Ural
Vladimir Khozin scored the only goal in a shockingly open match, as both teams went end to end in search of goals. Spartak looked good with the ball over most of the pitch, but then seemed to lose all technical ability when coming anywhere near the goal. Yura Movsisyan was closest when he rattled the woodwork late on, but it wasn't enough to halt Spartak's run of 5 games without a win.

Amkar 0-1 Terek
Amkar and Terek were mostly level for the entire match, and it was only Oleg Ivanov's strike just before half time that settled it. In the second half, Amkar pushed for an equaliser but could never quite apply the necessary finish.

Krylia 1-3 CSKA
Zoran Tosic and Seydou Doumbia both scored in the opening 7 minutes to give CSKA a formidable lead that got even mightier when Tosic got his second after half time. Krylia didn't really look like scoring until CSKA had gotten complacent with their victory, allowing Alan Chochiev to score a consolation goal in the 88th minute.

Zenit 6-2 Rubin

Hulk scored two first half penalties and Sardar Azmoun pulled a goal back for Rubin before the match devolved into complete chaos late in the second half. Danny scored one, while substitute Salomon Rondon scored a hat-trick, and Roman Eremenko scored the third penalty of the game to end with the score at 6-2.

Anzhi 4-0 Dynamo
Dynamo dominated possession, but were brutalised on the counter-attack as Georgi Gabulov had possibly the worst game of his career. Aleksandr Bukharov and Fyodor Smolov each scored in the first half to give Anzhi a solid lead, while Serder Serderov and Makhach Gadzhiev scored late in the second half to complete the rout.

Krasnodar 0-2 Rostov
The first half was mostly even, despite Zhano Ananidze's tap-in on the verge of half time, but Krasnodar completely overran Rostov in the second half. Anton Amelchenko kept the visitors in the game, before Artem Dzyuba scored a penalty in stoppage time to confirm the three points.

Lokomotiv 3-0 Volga
Things started poorly for Volga as they had Piotr Polczak sent off after just 24 minutes. Things went from bad to worse just 8 minutes later when they gave away a penalty and Aleksandr Samedov converted it. Maicon scored just after half time while Dame N'Doye added the third later in the second period to give Loko an expected win.

Krylia 1-1 Terek
Krylia and Terek caught up their games in hand with an even and predictable draw. Neither side really looked like taking the upper hand and they both scored within four minutes of each other just before half time.

Table:
1 - Lokomotiv
2 - Zenit
3 - CSKA
4 - Dynamo
5 - Spartak
6 - Krasnodar
7 - Rostov
8 - Amkar
9 - Kuban
10 - Rubin
11 - Krylia
12 - Ural
13 - Terek
14 - Tomsk
15 - Volga
16 - Anzhi

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Krasnodar 0-2 Rostov: Hosts dominant but punished for carelessness


football formationsKrasnodar ran riot against Rostov, but counters and a penalty doomed the hosts to defeat. However, Rostov still don't look capable of catching and surpassing Krasnodar, with five points separating them with six games still to play.

Both sides were somewhat damaged by injuries, as Krasnodar had to play Evgeni Shipitsin in place of the injured Wanderson, while Rostov played Zhano Ananidze centrally and brought Dmitri Poloz in to play out left to cover for the suspended Guelor Kanga Kaku. Anton Amelchenko and Igor Khudobyak came in for Stipe Pletikosa and Alexandru Gatcan respectively, as they were both injured.

Almost nothing at all happened in the first period, and the sides were mostly even for much of the half. Ari had one of the few chances when he got a header on target from a Nikolai Markov cross, but Amelchenko made a solid save. Rostov went forward in the first and only minute of stoppage time, and Artem Dzyuba headed on target from close range after a Timofey Kalachev cross. Andrei Sinitsyn made the save, but Ananidze was there to tap it in and give Rostov the lead going into the break.

Krasnodar came out of the gates firing after the interval and forced the visitors onto the back foot immediately. Amelchenko had to make two saves to excellent strikes from Joaozinho within the first quarter of an hour, while substitute Yuri Gazinskiy also came close with 25 minutes left to play. Up the other end, Rostov were wasteful, with the few shots they had going wildly off target. They barely got into Krasnodar's box, while the hosts consistently found men in the Rostov box thanks to plenty of accurate crosses. Both Komlichenko and Joaozinho almost equalised just 10 minutes from time, but Amelchenko was equal to the first, while the Brazilian's effort was deflected narrowly wide for a corner. With 5 minutes left to go, Ananidze was withdrawn in favour of Igor Lolo as Rostov shut up shop to hold onto their minute lead. Ultimately, this plan proved to be more than successful as Rostov went up the other end on a counter and drew a penalty in the final seconds of stoppage time, allowing Artem Dzyuba to take the chance and finish off the game.

Man of the Match: Zhano Ananidze
Ananidze not only scored the first goal, but controlled possession for much of the first half from his preferred central role. Surprisingly competent in defence when called upon, his passing was also a joy to behold.

Honourable Mentions:
Anton Amelchenko - Kept Rostov in the game at times with a few excellent saves, but also tended to be a bit shaky.
Joaozinho - Looked like a constant threat to score throughout the game, and quite often it was only Amelchenko that denied him an equaliser for most of the second half.

Notes:
- The match was fairly even in the first half, but then Krasnodar just rolled over Rostov after the interval. One might point to the introduction of Yuri Gazinskiy, but he wasn't that great so I really can't explain Krasnodar's improvement.
- Zhano moving back central was incredible, and he was significantly better defensively than I remember.
- Amelchenko is a competent back-up for Pletikosa, but his handling could use some work. He was a bit shaky at times.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2013-14 Matchweek 23 Recap: Nervy matches all around for title contenders

Many of the top clubs in the RPL, including Zenit and Dynamo, saw serious scares against inferior opposition by conceding early and then having to fight back to win. Regardless, there were no major upsets in any of the matches.

Ural 2-1 Anzhi
Ural were by far the better side and went ahead through Spartak Gogniev and Aleksandr Erokhin, yet they let Alexandru Epureanu score a late consolation goal and had to endure a nervy finish.

Amkar 1-2 Zenit
Amkar scored first thanks to ex-Zenit forward Maksim Kannunikov before the visitors lost Oleg Shatov to injury. Zenit came out of the break swinging, equalising through Domenico Criscito almost instantly before Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored the winner just six minutes later.

football formationsLokomotiv 0-0 Spartak
Lokomotiv and Spartak played out a relatively eventless Moscow derby as neither side really threatened the goal of the other at any point in the match.

Tomsk 1-3 Dynamo
Like Zenit, Dynamo suffered a scare when their opponents scored first, but Vladimir Rykov's goal was instantly cancelled out by Aleksandr Kokorin's. Kevin Kuranyi handed Dynamo the lead thirteen minutes later before Aleksei Ionov finished the game off minutes from full time.

Rubin 1-2 Rostov

Sardar Azmoun put Rubin in front after just three minutes thanks to some questionable Rostov defending, but Timofei Kalachev equalised on the break about half an hour later. It was Zhano Ananidze that got the winner for Rostov just before half time, with a deflected shot and all hopes of a Rubin equaliser were ended when the hosts had Sergei Ryzhikov sent off in stoppage time.

Kuban 1-3 Krasnodar
Surprisingly, it was Kuban who scored first in this edition of the Krasnodar derby, but the visitors recovered from Lorenzo Melgarejo's early strike to equalise through Roman Shirokov with the first half winding down. Ari gave Krasnodar the lead just after the break before Shirokov killed the game off with ten minutes to play by scoring his second goal of the match.

CSKA 3-0 Volga
Zoran Tosic and Alan Dzagoev both scored for CSKA in the opening seven minutes, however Dzagoev got himself sent off for a stamp half an hour later. Volga were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage and ultimately Pontus Wernbloom was able to shut the game down by scoring with twenty minutes left.

Table:
1 - Lokomotiv
2 - Zenit
3 - Dynamo
4 - CSKA
5 - Spartak
6 - Krasnodar
7 - Amkar
8 - Rostov
9 - Rubin
10 - Kuban
11 - Krylia (1 game in hand)
12 - Ural
13 - Tomsk
14 - Terek (1 game in hand)
15 - Volga
16 - Anzhi

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ural 2-1 Anzhi: Hosts dominate but allow late chances

Ural dominated Anzhi for the majority of the 90 minutes and went two goals up, but allowed Anzhi several chances late on, one of which allowed the visitors a consolation goal from a corner.

Neither side lined up particularly strangely, with Ural using a very attacking 4-1-4-1 with Gerson Acevedo and Aleksandr Erokhin sitting just behind Spartak Gogniev. Meanwhile, Anzhi set up with their standard 4-2-3-1, playing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Oleksandr Aliev on the wings, yet the two constantly interchanged to try to find a way through.

football formations
Ural started the match firmly in control of the ball and looked dominant early on, coming close through Chisamba Lungu in the opening four minutes. Unfortunately, the match was marred by an early injury, as Ural's Vladimir Koman went down early on and had to be replaced by Aleksandr Stavpets. Mere moments later, Ural went ahead as Acevedo played an excellent through ball which was seemingly destined for Erokhin, however he left it and drew Alexandru Epureanu out of position. The ball then found Gogniev who slotted coolly past Anzhi keeper Mikhail Kerzhakov. It was Lungu that had the next chance, but he sent the ball high and wide despite shooting from just outside of the six-yard box. Anzhi finally managed to get some possession after this chance and created one of their own seven minutes later as Fyodor Smolov was sent through on goal, but Ural's Nikolai Zabolotny was equal to his effort and sent the ball for a corner. The middle of the half slowed considerably, with Ilya Maksimov coming closest but never really threatening the goal, and it looked like Ural would go into the half with just a one goal lead. However, this was not to be the case as, five minutes from half time, Acevedo chipped a pass over Anzhi's defence and the onrushing Erokhin volleyed it past Kerzhakov to make it 2-0.

The second half was significantly less exciting as neither side really pushed forward much and, as a result, chances were few and far between. Khozin came close with a header from a free kick ten minutes after the interval, but Kerzhakov was able to make the save easily. It wasn't for another twenty minutes that a chance came around, when Erokhin headed wide from a Dantsev cross. The match looked set to wind down, but it turned out that the excitement would only ramp up, as Zabolotny was forced to save a Gadzhibekov header at full stretch. At the resulting corner, Serder Serderov connected with a header that hit the crossbar, falling to Agalarov who headed it back across goal before Epureanu connected with a third header just over Zabolotny to bring it back to 2-1. Ural had one chance to finish the game off after Anzhi's goal, but Aleksandr Novikov sent the ball high and wide, so the hosts had to settle for a somewhat nervy finish.

Man of the Match: Gerson Acevedo
Acevedo was excellent on the ball all match long, setting up both Ural goals with fantastic passes. He was a little weak defensively, as per usual, but given his role for the team it's somewhat understandable.

Honourable Mentions:
Aleksandr Erokhin - The most dangerous threat on either side for most of the match, Erokhin was very unlucky not to add a second to his tally.
Alexandru Epureanu - Got Anzhi's consolation goal and continued a good run of form.

Notes:
- Ural were by far the better side for most of this match. They rolled over Anzhi in the first half and even when they weren't creating chances, they maintained the majority of possession. Anzhi were only really let into the match in the final ten minutes.
- It's got to be a really tough decision over whether to pick Spartak Gogniev or Edgar Manucharyan to start at striker for Ural.
- I remember when both Zabolotny and Kerzhakov were seen as promising keepers and no one had ever heard of Yuri Lodygin. Those were dark days.

Monday, March 24, 2014

2013-14 Matchweek 22 Recap: Goals. Goals everywhere

Goals abounded this week as the chase for the European places tightened significantly, although there was really only one upset. Also, circumstances prevented me from writing a match report this week, but there should be one next week as per usual.

Rostov 3-3 Amkar
Rostov suffered early on, going 3-1 down within 50 minutes, but were handed a lifeline by the dismissal of Amkar's Jakub Wawrzyniak 20 minutes from full time. Rostov managed to capitalise, scoring two times in as many minutes to draw level and steal a point at home.

Volga 0-1 Tomsk
Volga and Tomsk were even for almost all of the match, with Tomsk probably edging it on quality of chances. It was Jan Holenda who got the winner for them in stoppage time to take three points and pull his side out of the relegation places.

Lokomotiv 3-0 Ural
Ural's Aleksandr Belozerov had a terrible time against Loko, scoring an own goal to provide the hosts' first before being sent off after Dame N'Doye and Sergei Tkachev had made it 3-0. Truth be told, Ural never even looked like getting into the match and this was a deserved result for Loko.

Krasnodar 4-0 Spartak
Spartak came into the match as favourites but were absolutely obliterated on the counter by Krasnodar, especially former Spartak player Ari. The visitors controlled possession, but lacked incision in the final third, while Krasnodar took their chances well, allowing Ari to score a hat-trick and Wanderson to finish Spartak off.

Dynamo 0-0 Rubin

Dynamo probably deserved to win this match, but Rubin had a solid defence and were able to limit the hosts to ineffective chances from outside the box. As a result, neither side could break the deadlock and Rubin will be satisfied with a point here.

Terek 2-1 Kuban
Terek were surprisingly dominant, even though it took an Ailton penalty to go ahead early on. Kuban looked utterly unable to equalise for much of the first half, and things went from bad to worse as Marcin Komorowski made it 2-0 just before the hour mark. Lorenzo Melgarejo managed to pull one back eight minutes later, but it was the only real chance Kuban had and Terek took a deserved win.

Anzhi 0-3 CSKA
Despite their recent resurgence, Anzhi never looked capable of dealing with CSKA as Seydou Doumbia ran riot, scoring the first two goals and setting up Ahmed Musa's finish for the third. CSKA actually looked like a well-oiled team rather than just a group of individuals for one of the first times this season.

football formationsZenit 2-1 Krylia
Hulk opened the scoring with a penalty within 5 minutes before doubling Zenit's lead after 45 more, however Ibrahim Tsallagov pulled one back 2 minutes later. Krylia were given two penalties, but Yuri Lodygin managed to save both to hold Zenit's lead and give the hosts a win in Andre Villas-Boas' first match as manager.

Table:
1 - Lokomotiv
2 - Zenit
3 - Dynamo
4 - Spartak
5 - CSKA
6 - Krasnodar
7 - Amkar
8 - Rostov
9 - Rubin
10 - Kuban
11 - Krylia
12 - Tomsk
13 - Terek
14 - Ural
15 - Volga
16 - Anzhi