Dinamo v Spartak – Tuesday 18 July 17.30 BST/18.30 CET – Khimki Arena, Moscow.
Although Spartak will already have faced a city rival this season after contesting the Russian Super Cup against Lokomotiv on Friday, Tuesday’s meeting with Dinamo carries much deeper history and significance. When Financial Fair Play regulations effectively demoted Dinamo last summer by forcing them to sell almost all their highly-paid foreign stars, it was uncertain how they would cope with the unfamiliar surroundings of Russia’s second tier, but 12 months later they look in rude health after walking to the FNL title.
Krasnodar’s all-time top goalscorer Wanderson has been added to their squad up front, while former Kuban Krasnodar centre-back Toni Sunjic joins from Stuttgart to offer experience and steel at the back. The character of their team, however, remains based on the tightly-knit group of youth products who have played together for years; Grigori Morozov, Alexander Tashaev, Maksim Kuzmin and Anatoliy Katrich all came through the Lev Yashin academy and played significant parts in the promotion push.
Spartak famously lifted the 16-year hoodoo hanging over them as they finally won the Russian premier League title for the first time since the Oleg Romantsev glory days, and have so far managed to hold onto prize asset Quincy Promes. There is little doubt their first choice starting lineup is the strongest in the league as a complete unit, but the depth of their squad is a concern. For this particular match they will be without Serdar Tasci and Roman Zobnin through injury, but any more significant absentees and they would be down to the bare bones.
Massimo Carrera appeared in bullish mood about the significance of the traditional curtain-raiser in the press conference on Thursday. “This is a match that we need to win,” he said. “We will be given one hundred percent to win. In addition, the Super Cup is part of the season; and in it we will also try to take the first place.” He admitted he wasn’t going to use the game to trial his new signing Marko Petkovic without being 100% certain of his preparation, in stark contrast to how many managers approach equivalent matches in other countries.
The match is virtually guaranteed to be a sell-out, as Dinamo’s temporary home, the compact Khimki Arena that holds just 18,000, welcomes top flight football back under a more positive atmosphere. In a season of only 30 league fixtures that is crammed into a relatively short space of time – due to the enforced winter break, and the staging of the World Cup next summer – there is very little leeway for clubs to recover from poor results. Add in the decades-old enmity that exists between the two clubs, and you have all the ingredients for a firecracker of an RFPL Moscow Derby.
Dinamo v Spartak – Players to Look Out For
Kirill Panchenko #8 – Dinamo Moscow
Last season’s FNL top goalscorer is a lot more than just a statistical strength in the Dinamo Moscow side. After joining CSKA two seasons ago from Tom Tomsk, he showed flashes of brilliance for the Armymen before being shipped out to Dinamo on loan,where he exploded in a withdrawn role behind a target man. At 27 years of age, time is not massively on his side, but this is a golden opportunity for Panchenko to prove his worth at the top level. With Wanderson alongside him and the powerful target man Fatos Beciraj to play off, the attacking threat for Dinamo runs through Panchenko.
Denis Glushakov #8 – Spartak Moscow
While Quincy Promes is the obvious dangerman in front of goal, the control of the match will depend on Spartak captain Glushakov maintaining his brilliant form from last season. Fernando will play his usual role of anchoring the area in front of the defence, but without his skipper’s metronomic passing and engine to cover ground further up the pitch, attacks can break down, leaving the likes of Promes isolated. The atmosphere is likely to be intense, so if the game is tight, Glushakov’s calmness and authority in the middle will be key to smoothing the champions’ path to victory.
Dinamo v Spartak – Match Stats
- It has been nine years since Dinamo beat Spartak at home
- Since the turn of the century, Spartak have won more than half the competitive meetings between these two
- Spartak have won the last six league encounters in a row, scoring 16 goals in the process
- Spartak have scored on their last nine away league matches against Dinamo
- The last four matches hosted by Dinamo have produced 17 total goals
Dinamo v Spartak – Possible Lineups
Shunin – Terekhov, Holmen, Sunjic, Morozov – Sapeta, Kuzmin – Ionov, Panchenko, Wanderson – Beciraj
Manager: Yuri Kalitvintsev
Rebrov – Tigiev, Dzhikia, Kutepov, Kombarov – Fernando, Glushakov – Promes, Popov, Samedov – Luiz Adriano
Manager: Massimo Carrera
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football, and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.