Krasnodar vs Sevilla – Thursday, October 4, 20:00 BST/21:00CEST/ 22:00 MSK – Stadion Krasnodar, Krasnodar
Last season, Krasnodar’s under-19 team took the UEFA Youth League by storm, breaking attendance and individual scoring records along the way. Although they fell valiantly to Real Madrid’s youngsters in a tense knockout tie, they set the bar as high as billionaire owner Sergey Galinsky could have hoped. The senior team have been making steady progress despite a blip last term. Now, they have little excuse but to match up to their successful academy prodigies. The smooth transition from Igor Shalimov’s fractured reign to Murad Musaev has begun potentially the most thrilling episode in the club’s brief history to date.
Musaev has spent years playing a significant role in the much-vaunted academy, helping to develop the stars that stood toe to toe with Europe’s best last season. Ivan Ignatyev and Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov have graduated with real promise already this term, and have the ideal guide to shepherd them through the turbulent landscape of senior football. Neither featured in the opening match in Turkey, but are certain to be called upon before long. Despite the inexperience of their opponents, Krasnodar made tough going of Akhasir a fortnight ago. Nevertheless, they have got the result they needed.
Sevilla are undoubtedly the sternest test they will face given the Spaniard’s superb pedigree in the Europa League. Krasnodar come into the game with their key players in form, and a run of five consecutive wins without conceding in all competitions. The holy grail of the Champions League has eluded them tantalisingly, but they know with the faltering form of rivals around them domestically they will rarely have a better chance to stake their credentials.
Sevilla have become synonymous with Europe’s second-tier competition, winning three in a row between 2014 and 2016 under former Spartak Moscow manager Unai Emery. It is of little surprise that Quincy promes decided to choose the Spanish side after leaving Spartak Moscow this summer given his desire to perform at the highest level. It is both a damning indictment of the gap between Russian and Spanish football and also a sign of Sevilla’s strength, that arguably the best player in Russian football has failed to make a single start in his new home yet.
The Andalusians are in frightening form domestically, having scored 17 goals in their last four matches, including a 3-0 defeat of European champions Real Madrid. In fact, they have won six of their last seven away matches in all competitions, so will arrive in southern Russia full of confidence. The similar climate will be a minor plus for Sevilla; Krasnodar’s stunning academy and training facilities were even the base that the Spanish national team chose to use during the World Cup.
The one hope for Krasnodar might that this represents Sevilla’s toughest assignment in the group stages, and therefore may lend their Spanish visitors a more relaxed approach. It is inconceivable that Standard Liege and Akhisar will pose any meaningful obstacle, so in the interests of preserving an element of energy and fitness Machin may instruct his players to adopt a slower pace. With the very well-known pace of Promes to call upon, however, it is unlikely Krasnodar will get much respite.
Krasnodar vs Sevilla – Players to Watch
Viktor Claesson #16 – Krasnodar
Since the departure of Fedor Smolov, Claesson has stepped up to the plate to be the focal point of Krasnodar’s invention up front. Five goals so far this season, including the winner away to Turkish newcomers Akhisar, make the Swedish international Krasnodar’s top goalscorer. With the chopping and changing of the forward line – youngsters Ivan Ignatyev and Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov have flitted into the side while Ari has served a three-match suspension – Claesson provides the experienced head on still-athletic shoulders.
Andre Silva #12 – Sevilla
An awkward time at AC Milan didn’t help the Portuguese international’s progress last season, but he has come alive upon his return to the Iberian peninsula. Seven goals in seven La Liga matches has seen him top the Pichichi charts two goals clear of Lionel Messi with his lithe balance on the ball. With consistent Europa League goalscorer Wissam Ben Yedder alongside him there will be plenty to occupy the Krasnodar defence, but staying tight to Silva to prevent his movement will perhaps be the answer.
Krasnodar vs Sevilla – Match Stats
- Krasnodar have lost three of the four matches they have played against Spanish opposition
- This is Krasnodar’s fifth consecutive Europa League campaign; in their first three, they progressed one stage further than the previous season until falling in the playoffs last season
- They have scored in all but one of their European group stage home games
- Three-time champions Sevilla have already had to negotiate seven matches this Europa League campaign, winning all seven of them
- This season they average over three goals per games, and have conceded just twice
- Sevilla have never failed to progress from a Europa League group
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Krasnodar vs Sevilla – 1-1
Krasnodar vs Sevilla – Possible Lineups
Kritsyuk – Stotskiy, Martynovich, Spajic, Ramirez – Kabore, Mamaev, Gazinskiy – Wanderson, Ari, Claesson
Manager: Murad Musaev
Vaclik – Carrico, Gomez, Kjaer, Arana – Banega – Navas, Sarabia, Vazquez – Ben Yedder, Andre Silva
Manager: Pablo Machin
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.