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

McClaren’s new-ish Wolfsburg

2010/11 Wolfsburg in a 4-4-2?

Steve McClaren, via transfer director Dieter Hoeneß, has set his VfL Wolfsburg revolution to full steam ahead.

For starters, Obafemi Martins, a peripheral figure last season, has been sold to Rubin Kazan. This was the right move for all concerned, with the Nigerian striker never settling in Germany.

As Lorenz-Günter Köstner stuck by Felix Magath’s 4-3-1-2, last season’s Plan B tended to be an injection of width, rendering the former Inter striker surplus to requirements.

Also shown the door have been Jan Šimůnek, an unexceptional full-back from the Czech Republic, and South American midfielder Jonathan Santana. Continue reading

Moscow sides and Rubin trail Zenit

Followers of thermal-clad football rejoice – Russia’s Premier League resumes in full after its break this Thursday!

In spite of bidding to host its 2018 edition, Eastern Europe’s stellar division is ignoring the ongoing World Cup.

The RFUs calendar runs from March to December, and deprivation of fatigued South Africa-starring personnel could therefore impact on the eventual standings.

Overtaking leaders Zenit St. Petersburg side is a primary mission for at least five clubs during the second half of the season, with the recent UEFA Cup champions by far and away the league’s best side.

Defending champions Rubin Kazan began the campaign intent on escaping their (2010/11) Champions League group, and scooping a third successive title. Continue reading