Russian League, Round 1
July 19, 2015
Zenit 2 – 1 Dynamo Moscow
Goals: Hulk 44 pen, Shatov 68 – Kokorin 28
St.Petersburg, Petrovsky Stadium
Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Neto, Garay, Criscito (c) – Javi Garcia, Yusupov (67 Fayzulin), Witsel – Hulk (82 Rondon), Dzyuba (78 Ryazantsev), Shatov
Dynamo Moscow: Gabulov – Sosnin, Hubocan (43 sent off), Danilkin, Zhirkov – Zobnin, Denisov, Dzsudzsak (46 Kozlov), Valbuena (88 Obolskiy) – Ionov, Aleksandr Kokorin
Dynamo is in disarray. They just kicked coach Cherchesov out of the club, two weeks before the start of the new season. Former Dynamo player Kobelev replaces him at the helm. I don’t see any reasonable explanation of that decision, must be some power struggle under the carpet, or some such. Cherchesov was in fact a good coach, while Kobelev in my view is not. Kobelev used to be a decent player; interestingly he spent 3 years in the later stages of his career at Zenit and is still considered one of the favourite players of the previous generations by the Zenit fans. Anyway, Dynamo fired the coach but they had also fired their sports director Adzhoev a couple of weeks earlier. Star forward Kuranyi had left the club after the last season, and they also lost midfielder Artur Yusupov to Zenit. The latest transfer rumor is that they might also part ways with central defender Douglas but this hasn’t been confirmed. In addition, UEFA banned Dynamo from the Europa League for breaking the rules of financial fair play. Overall it looks like the Eternal Losers of the Russian football will be sticking to their losing traditions this season as well. I’m pretty sure they will crumble at some point during the season and the question is only how soon this will start happening.
Not many changes at Zenit. The Russian champions kept the coach and most of the players. Former stars and city idols Arshavin and Kerzhakov were let go by Villas-Boas causing massive outcry by the fans, but honestly they didn’t play much last season anyway, so it’s just emotions. None of the starters have left so far, despite that the departures of Witsel, Rondon, and/or Garay still might happen before September. Zenit has signed attacking midfielder Yusupov from Dynamo Moscow and big forward Dzyuba from Spartak Moscow. None of the two have integrated into the team play so far, judging by the way they played in the Supercup game against Loko last Sunday. They will have to integrate soon, because the new limit on foreign players in league games (no more than 6 foreigners on the pitch, compared to last season’s 7) means one more Russian player in the starting lineup, like Dzyuba replacing Rondon or Yusupov replacing Danny. Both newcomers started against Dynamo. Danny was still unavailable through injury.
Shatov - Dzyuba - Hulk
Witsel - Yusupov
Criscito - Garay - Neto - Smolnikov
The visitors played surprisingly well in the first 45 minutes. They opened the scoring after a fast break down the right, former Zenit player Ionov centered for Kokorin who sent the ball home. On the stroke of half-time Dzyuba was put through on goal and former Zenit defender Hubocan brought him down in the area. Hulk put away the penalty and the dreaded double punishment made sure Dynamo had to play the second half with 10 men.
Having a one-man advantage, Zenit pushed for the win in the second half and eventually scored the winner about 20 minutes from time: Hulk had his shot blocked by a defender but luckily the ball bounced back to the Brazilian and he threaded it to Shatov who had all the time in the world to calmly send the ball into the top far corner.
Smolnikov and Shatov had a very good game, Yusupov still doesn’t look like a good addition. Luckily Dzyuba was very useful in the role of big center forward, getting the ball often and laying it off for other Zenit attacking players entering the area. His arrival can be considered positive as it adds more variety to Zenit attacks.
Next Match: Sun July 26, 1:30pm Ural – Zenit