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

Sibir Novosibirsk-PSV

Sibir vs PSV could be a tactically intriguing contest. Akin to Diego Forlán at the recent World Cup, Ola Toivonen has been pivotal in the oppositions's corridor between midfield and defence so far this season. In the space of four days, both De Graafschap and Scotland have fallen foul of his charms, and his impeccably timed ghosts to the edge of box resulted in a hat-trick on the weekend. Yet with Balázs Dzsudzsák's absence denying PSV the crucial left-footed wideman option, two right-footers on the channels could play into the home side's hands. Cramping the centre would nullify the left winger's cuts inside, and land-mine Toivonen's hunting ground.

PSV Eindhoven sit atop the Eredivisie table after two rounds of the 2010/11 season, but continental competition-wise, must contend UEFAs second-class competition after a disappointing campaign last season.

Fans of the Philips-owned giants are accustomed to Champions League football, and resultantly, the prospect of a tie 5,000 miles away on a Thursday evening must be difficult to muster up enthusiasm for.

Therefore, fans of the Lowland outfit, so recently semi-finalists in UEFAs primary tournament, don’t really know how to respond to their side’s participation.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Dutch club’s latest opponents, Sibir Novosibirsk. Rock bottom in Russia during a season 15 rounds older than its Dutch counterpart, the Europa League offers welcome respite. Continue reading