Season 2011-2012

Russian season 2011-12 is transitional. Instead of a normal season played from March through November, this one has started in March 2011 and will end in May 2012. Subsequent seasons will be played starting in fall (in summer actually) and ending in spring, as to better fit football calendars in most European countries.

The season 2011-12 has 44 rounds, of which 32 have been played in 2011. There’s no Russian Champions for 2011, however Zenit can be considered the “Winter Champions” with a 6 point lead before the winter break. The team has 65 points after 32 games: 18 wins, 11 draws, and 3 losses. One of the losses is a 0-3 “technical defeat” in a home game against CSKA which ended 1-1. Zenit was punished for violating an obscure rule that one youth player must be included in the list of players for each league game. The youngster doesn’t have to play.

Update (May 25, 2012):

The 2011-12 season is now over and Zenit are the champions.
The final Russian league table:

                 P   Pts  W   D   L     F-A
1 Zenit          44  88   24  16  4    85-40
2 Spartak        44  75   21  12  11   68-48
3 CSKA           44  73   19  16  9    72-47
4 Dynamo Moscow  44  72   20  12  12   66-50
5 Anji           44  70   19  13  12   54-42
6 Rubin          44  68   17  17  10   55-41
7 Lokomotiv      44  66   18  12  14   59-48
8 Kuban          44  61   15  16  13   50-45

Scorers:
28 (2 pen) Dumbia (CSKA)
23 (3) Kerzhakov (Zenit)
18 (4) Traore (Kuban)
14 (5) Movsisyan (Krasnodar)
13 (0) Kuranyi (Dynamo)
13 (0) Emenike (Spartak)
13 (2) Eto’O (Anji)
12 (0) Semshov (Dynamo)
12 (3) Lazovic (Zenit)
11 (0) Voronin (Dynamo)
11 (0) Dzyuba (Spartak)
11 (2) Adamov (Rostov)
11 (2) Glushakov (Lokomotiv)
10 (0) Ari (Spartak)
10 (1) Davydov (Rubin)
10 (2) Golyshev (Krasnodar)
10 (2) Kornilenko (Krylya Sovetov)
9 (0) Wagner Love (CSKA)
9 (0) Danny (Zenit)
9 (1) Shirokov (Zenit)
9 (2) Mauricio (Terek)
9 (6) Natho (Rubin)

Zenit earned 88 points in 44 matches (44 at home and 44 away). It would have been 89, but one point was deducted when a home 1-1 draw with CSKA last summer was replaced with a 0-3 ‘technical defeat’. Zenit scored the most goals in the league, conceded the least, lost on the pitch just 3 times, and ended the season 13 points clear off the nearest rivals.

Zenit team stats (games played/goals scored)

Malafeev (gk) 41 -35
Zyryanov      41 1
Denisov       40 1
Lombaerts     39 1
Anyukov       37 1
Bruno Alves   36 -
Fayzulin      34 4
Kerzhakov     32 23
Lazovic       31 12
Bukharov      31 6
Hubocan       30 -
Danny         27 9
Shirokov      26 9
Huszti        26 4
Criscito      24 1
Semak         20 5
Lukovic       19 1
Bystrov       12 1
Arshavin      10 3
Kanunnikov    10 -
Rosina        10 -
Zhevnov (gk)   5 -3
Borodin (gk)   1 -
Terentyev      1 -

Players no longer with the club:
Ionov         20 3
Cheminava      3 -
Petrov         2 -
Lumb           1 -
Meira          1 -


A few words about the players:

16 Vyacheslav Malafeev – Goalkeeper, also the longest serving active Zenit player at the moment. Captained the team on many occasions. Russian international. During his career at the club made dozens of miracle saves on the line. Not as good when he comes out for crosses.

2 Alexandr Anyukov – Right back. Has great pace an enormous stamina, a fearless player. Plays for the club since 2005. Captained the team on many occasions. Russian international.

3 Bruno Alves – Central defender, was a regular starter for Portugal this season and captained the national side on a few occasions. Reliable defender, able to start attacking moves with long through passes. In the air, outjumps any opponent, including some goalkeepers. Apparently had some problems with the coach this season, and there was ongoing speculation that he could be traded for some other player (Juve’s Bonucci was being mentioned). Didn’t happen though.

4 Domenico Criscito – Joined the team in 2011 and from match one established himself as an excellent left back. Player of the Italian National Squad, that’s the mark of quality.

6 Nicolas Lombaerts – Central defender. Belgian international. Tall, very good in the air, and has great tackling skills.

8 Danko Lazovic – Forward, but can also play an attacking midfielder. Good at set pieces. Not always a regular starter though. In 2012 didn’t play at all and most likely will be leaving the club in the summer.

9 Alexandr Bukharov – A big central forward, joined the club in the summer of 2010. Despite high expectations, was of little value for the team in the 2011-12 season, a big disappointment so far.

10 Miguel Danny – Attacking midfielder, “The Headless Horseman”. Miguel Danny has amazing pace, great technique, a decent shot, and enormous stamina. He also has passion for football. However, some of his decisions on the pitch raise questions, like when his passes go nowhere in simple playing situations, or when he tries to dribble an opponent unnecessarily and loses the ball. He was getting calls to the Portugal national side in 2011 but failed to secure a place in the starting lineup. Still very good for the Russian league though. Did not play in 2012 due to knee injury.

11 Alexandr Kerzhakov – The bomber. Never misses a chance to make a shot on goal. The main attacking force of the team. One of the best strikers in Zenit history, as well as in the Russian league history. Russian international.

14 Tomas Hubocan – Another transfer success of the club. Acqiured for cheap back in 2008, the Slovak international has developed into a very good central defender. Can play as left back as well.

15 Roman Shirokov – “Twitterista”. Central midfielder. Not very fast, but definitely the smartest player on the team. Has great passing skills and also scores a lot for a midfielder — 5 goals in this Champions League campaign, as an example. Also known for his sincere interviews. Very active in his twitter account, @shirokovr15 (15 being his shirt number at Zenit). Russian international.

17 Alessandro Rosina – Attacking midfielder. The biggest transfer flop in recent Zenit history. Hardly gets any playing time while being paid a hefty salary.

18 Konstantin Zyryanov – Midfielder. One of the club’s biggest successes on the transfer market. Bought cheaply in winter of 2007 to be a substitute, quickly became a regular starter for the title winning squad of 2007 and became Russian Footballer of the Year that same season. Very creative, has great passing skills and scoring ability. Russian international. Unfortunately, now at 34 years of age he doesn’t play his best football (so far in 2012 anyway).

20 Victor Fayzulin – A very talented attacking midfielder. Had a great season in 2011 but probably still hasn’t realized his full potential.

25 Sergei Semak – A 35-year old creative midfielder, also played second striker at his previous clubs, CSKA and Rubin. Has now collected a total of five Russian league titles with three different clubs. An amazing player with great personality.

27 Igor Denisov – Hard-tackling defensive midfielder, the stallworth of Zenit midfield. Russian international.

Alexei Ionov – Talented attacking midfielder made his way from the youth squad to the main team. Reportedly had issues with alcohol and gambling. After a DUI incident in winter 2012 got loaned out to Kuban, so he’s no longer with the team.

29 Andrei Arshavin – Forward/creative midfielder. The best player in Zenit’s history. Very smart and has great technique. Not always in great physical shape, however. Had been sold to Arsenal in 2009 but returned to Zenit on a six-month loan this winter. Russian international.

34 Vladimir Bystrov – Right attacking midfielder. Lightining fast. Had two very controversial moments in his career: first when he joined arch-rivals Spartak Moscow back in 2005 and then when he returned back to Zenit in 2009. As a result, still hated by some hard-core fans on both sides.

23 Szabolcs Huszti – Left-footed midfielder. Hungarian international. Great at set pieces, also makes a lot of assists. Doesn’t get much playing time with Spalletti in charge, and was about to be sold during the winter 2012 transfer window.

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