The Russian Premier League may take a backseat to the other leagues in Europe as far as coverage goes, but with Guus Hiddink’s team progressing to the semi-final stage of Euro 2008, interest in Russian football around the world has definitely piqued.
Adding to the exposure is Dick Advocaat’s Zenit St Petersburg; winners of the UEFA cup last season as well as Russian players like Andrey Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchencko creating a buzz in the English Premier League.
The big questions being asked for this coming RPL season are:
Can Spartak Moscow coached by former Denmark great Michael Laudrup, challenge last season’s champions Rubin Kazan?
Will Zenit St. Petersburg rediscover the winning form they showed during the UEFA cup win last season?
With more money than ever in Russian football, thanks to the several oligarchs investing large amounts of roubles, lately there has been an influx of talented and exciting foreigners - all set to grace Russian pitches this season.
And with this you can be sure there will be no shortage of quality in the Russian Premier League.
Fixtures; Matchday Two (all times local)
Saturday March 21
11:00 Krylya Sovetov - Amkar Perm
12:00 Kuban Krasnoda- Spartak Moscow
13:15 Dinamo Moscow - FK Khimki
15:30 FC Moscow - Terek Groznyi
Sunday March 22
12:00 Zenit St Petersburg -Saturn Moscow Oblast
14:30 Spartak Nalchik - Rubin Kazan
17:00 FK Rostov - Lokomotiv Moscow
Monday March 23
17:00 CSKA Moscow – Tom Tomsk
Krylya Sovetov - Amkar Perm
Last round, Krylya Sovetov lost 1-0 to Tom Tomsk. Amkar Perm drew 0-0 with FC Rostov. Not the most famous names in Russian football, nonetheless both teams will be looking to gain three points in this game.
Kuban Krasnoda - Spartak Moscow
Michael Laudrup’s Spartak will be looking for a win after drawing with Zenit St Petersburg last week. The game ended in an entertaining 1-1 draw, but was marred by excessive crowd violence. On the field, Russian international Ivan Saenko scored for Spartak in only the second minute and Pavel Progrebnyak hit back in the 17th minute for Zenit.
Dinamo Moscow - FK Khimki
Last week Dinamo Moscow beat FC Moscow with a last minute goal at home;, Kerzhakov got the header to give the home side the win. FK Khimki got a good draw away from home last week against another Moscow side, Lokomotiv.
FC Moscow - Terek Groznyi
FC Moscow will be looking to bounce back after disappointingly conceding a last minute goal to Dinamo Moscow last week. Terek Groznyi, meanwhile, won 1-0 at home to Spartak Nalchik and will look to continue their good start.
Zenit St. Petersburg - Saturn Moscow Oblast
Zenit will be hoping to win their first home fixture of the season, with interest in European competition at an end. Saturn Moscow will seek to absolve last week’s 3-0 loss to CSKA.
Spartak Nalchik - Rubin Kazan
Champions Rubin Kazan thrashed Kuban Krasnodar 3-0 last week; Bukharov getting a double and Semak getting the other. Spartak Nalchik lost 1-0 away to Terek Groznyi and they will want to kick start their campaign with a win at home
FC Rostov - Lokomotiv Moscow
The other Moscow club Lokomotiv Moscow had to settle for a 1-1 draw with FK Khimki. They will look for a win away against FC Rostov, who drew 0-0 with Amkar Perm and perhaps have their sights on a home win this time round.
CSKA Moscow – Tom Tomsk
CSKA had a comfortable 3-0 score line in their favour as they beat Saturn Moscow away last weekend. Russian international Sergei Ignashevich netted two goals and Alan Dzagoev got the other. Tom Tomsk lost 1-0 to Krylya Sovetov at home last they will hope for better result this time. CSKA, no doubt, will be looking to ease the pain of a UEFA Cup exit with some domestic vengeance.
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com