Sibir Novosibirsk 2-2 Rubin Kazan

The formations that began the game. When Sibir took the lead, Noboa began playing in a more advanced position. Ansaldi didn't offer much of an overlapping threat because Eduardo and Kasaev were doubling-up down that flank.

Russian Premier League strugglers Sibir Novosibirsk injected life into their survival battle by winning at Rostov last weekend. But with relegation rivals Krylya Sovetov Samara winning yesterday, Sibir knew they had to take three points against last season’s champions here to maintain any hopes they had of surviving.

Rubin came into the game in second place, wearied from playing Barcelona in the Champions League in the week, and knowing they also needed three points for their own domestic cause – keeping on the trail of runaway leaders, Zenit.

The sides’ league positions showed immediately – Rubin were superior to Sibir from the off. Without possession, they pressed high and in numbers, while with it, they were decisive and clever, and kept Aleksei Medvedev – back at his old club for the first time – well fed.

Sibir neglected to press, and found congesting the centre wasn’t preventing Rubin’s one-two moves that were easily keeping the ball in the final-third.

The visitors had a range of options in attack: Carlos Eduardo and Alan Kasaev dovetailed superbly – the Brazilian taking the back seat by making diagonal dummy runs that let the energetic Russian cut inside.

With the equally classy Christian Noboa nearby, the trio worked several sumptuous triangles to great effect.

Over on the right, Oleg Kuzmin and Andrei Gorbanets performed complementarily. Unfortunately, Gorbanets’ weak delivery too often wasted Rubin’s breakaways. Continue reading

Anzhi Makhachkala 0-1 Rubin Kazan

The formations that started the game. 4-4-2 vs 4-4-2 = barely a shot at goal, a bitty match with players fouling persistently due to being on top of one another, and an inevitable first half stalemate.

Matchday 21 of the Russian Premier League’s 2010 season saw ninth-placed Anzhi Makhachkala meet a Rubin Kazan side on the warpath after a midweek loss in the Champions League to Copenhagen.

Russia’s 2008 and 2009 champions made four alterations to the team that lost in Denmark, with Salvatore Bocchetti, Carlos Eduardo, Lasha Salukvadze and Vitali Kaleshin either rested, injured or dropped.

Anzhi made a few changes to the side that lost at Rostov last week, though most crucially, their passionate Dagestani fans were deprived of Jan Holenda, Andrei Streltsov and Igor Strelkov.

The match started in a frenetic fashion as both sides kept the ball in the air. This theme characterised the entire game as both sides opted to send goal-kicks towards and often into the opposition’s box.

While Rubin stood their defence on the halfway line during birthday boy Sergei Rhyzhikov’s long kicks of the ball, Anzhi kept banks of ‘4’ and ‘3’ deep in narrow, eyebrow shapes. Continue reading