AFTER THE SHOCK OF THE CUP
The two strongest RPL teams of the 21st century are approaching a head-to-head meeting confused by the spring results. CSKA unexpectedly appeared exclusively as a home team. At home, the army team defeated Krasnodar and Krylya Sovetov, and on the road with the same teams and in Sochi, in total, they barely managed a draw. The quality of the game of Vladimir Fedotov’s defenses is similar to the results: a brilliant game in attack is followed by a faded one, and vice versa.
If the red-and-blues were satisfied with a midweek draw in Samara, then the Russian champions sensationally flew out of the National Cup in front of a packed audience at the Gazprom Arena (no fan passport required). The party “Zenith” failed for many reasons, but it is worth noting the strange personnel policy of Sergei Semak.
Photo source: Anna Meyer / FC Zenit
Last weekend, he unnecessarily put all the strongest players in the match with the outsider of the championship Khimki, although a hypothetical loss of points here would not be critical, and in the Cup with Dynamo, when there was no room for error, for some reason he resorted to an unforced rotation. And this despite the fact that he was already deprived of the disqualified Rodrigao, Wilmar Barrios and Malcolm.
As a result, the residents of St. Petersburg missed the opportunity ahead of schedule for the third time in its history to issue a “golden double”.
ZENIT WITHOUT NEIGHBORHOODS
However, Barrios, a backbone footballer, will not be in Moscow either. Against Khimki, he picked up an injury and will miss up to four weeks on a provisional basis. For Fedotov, this is a great opportunity. He just needs to figure out the best way to use it. The support zone of the blue and whites will no longer be so insurmountable, because Vendel and Daler Kuzyaev (they shared the role of the Colombian in the cup game) are far from being so good in positional defense and direct selection.
But the match with Dynamo showed that Claudinho was already in good shape. As for the movement, it still has room to add, but the pleasure of creating from it rushes. The Brazilian thinks quickly, sees non-standard options and calmly executes even technically complex elements. Considering that Malcolm, who is in snazzy condition, will also play in Moscow, Igor Akinfeev expects a difficult 90 minutes.
Photo source: Evgeny Asmolov / FC Zenit
For the army team, the main positive news is that Igor Diveev, who has not played since September due to a broken shin, has finally returned. In Samara he got the first half an hour, and against Zenit he will be at the start for sure. He figures too important for the defense of Muscovites. It is probably worth waiting for Anton Zabolotny at the base, who twice in a row (somewhat unprecedented!) Came out at the start of CSKA. In the RPL against Krylia, he scored a beautiful goal and helped Fyodor Chalov to score, and assisted Jesus Medina in the first leg for the cup.
CSKA: Akinfeev – Rosha, Diveev, Moizes – Gaich, Zdelar, Mendez, Oblyakov – Medina, Chalov – Zabolotny.
Zenit: Kerzhakov – Karavaev, Rodrigao, Renan, Douglas Santos – Kuzyaev, Wendel, Claudinho – Malcolm, Cassierra, Mostovoy.
THE RENAISSANCE OF CHALOV
CSKA fans on Sunday will probably turn on their televisions without much enthusiasm. Still, years of failure take their toll. Zenit won the last six games against the army team with a goal difference of 14-4. In addition, in June 2020, an even defeat of the hosts took place in Moscow with a score of 4:0. Half of the goals in that match were scored by Malcom, who this time will be in his place.
Well, the last victory of the red and blue ones dates back to November 2018, when the team was on the rise after the summer restart and even fell twice in the Champions League against Real Madrid, and Fedor Chalov scored in all the games.
Photo source: PFC CSKA
Speaking of Chalov. The striker is experiencing a renaissance this season. In that 2018/19 season, the best so far, he scored 15 goals (in 30 games), and this year he has already scored 11 (19 games). That is, he goes even in a schedule of higher performance. In the last two matches with KS, Chalov has also scored an accurate shot and is clearly determined to extend the series in a match with Zenit. Do you think he will succeed?