Rostov 1-3 Zenit St Petersburg

Rostov's starting XI. This Christmas tree style played into the hands of Zenit, who exploited the large amount of space between the two sets of three in front of the defence. With Adamov dropping, Lebedenko veering inside & Anđelković surging forward, Rostov descended into a - defensive-minded - Marcelo Bielsa-esque 3-3-4!

Yesterday evening, Zenit St. Petersburg continued their unstoppable march towards the Russian title, beating Rostov on the road.

Luciano Spalletti’s side overcame a stern test in the form of the flourishing Rostov, tasting another success on the ground where they secured the Russian Cup two months back.

After vanquishing both Spartak and CSKA Moscow at their Olimp-2 stadium, I had hoped to see some study resistance from the hosts.

Perhaps this confidence was misplaced – a 3-2 loss at Dinamo Moscow acted as precursor to this true acid-test, a defeat characterised by daft defensive lapses, and two moments of individual genius from Roman Adamov and Igor Lebendenko.

The latter has thoroughly impressed this season, teaming superbly with Dušan Anđelković down the left. But another to have caught the eye, Bosnia’s Mersudin Ahmetović, settled for a spot on the bench here.

Unsurprisingly, the home side sought to attack down that aforementioned potent flank.

The tactic involved Lebedenko cutting inside on his right foot, carrying it fastly but aimlessly towards the right-channel, thus disguising the return ball to the Serb’s overlap. Continue reading

Attackers abound at Zenit

ohhhh Danny Boy, I love you so...

Danny

After 11 rounds of a 34-game season, the Russian Premier League is having a breather. The campaign continues later this month, and top of the perch, with a game to spare, are Zenit St Petersburg.

Life’s going well in Eastern Europe for Luciano Spalletti right now, with seven wins, three draws, three goals against and a Russian Cup victory to his name.

Taking to the Italian’s 4-2-3-1 like the proverbial water-finding duck, St. Petersburg are blessed with some of Europe’s most mesmerising midfielders.

Chief among them is €30m man Danny. Exceptional technique, poise, pace, composed finishing and killer through-passes make the Portuguese international Zenit’s key player.

Alas, the long-haired superstar will miss several games when the league resumes due to World Cup selection. Currently one of the continent’s most in-form players, Portugal’s gain is his club’s side loss. Continue reading