Sheriff vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Thursday 20:05 BST/21:05 CET – Sheriff Stadium – Tiraspol, Moldova.
Although the sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, there is some history between the two clubs. Lokomotiv and Sheriff came together in the semi-finals of the 2003 Commonwealth of Independent States Cup—a competition for the champions of the former Soviet nations. Sheriff won the game 1-0 against a Lokomotiv side that mostly resembled a reserve side.
The CIS Cup was originally founded to keep up the tradition of the Soviet Vysshaya Liga and to promote cooperation between the post-Soviet nations. Originally dominated by Russian clubs the competition faded in importance thanks to the establishment of the UEFA Champions League and the big Ukrainian and Russian sides began to send reserve sides instead of their first teams. Sheriff in the meantime won the competition twice in 2003 and 2009.
In fact, it is no surprise that Sheriff took the competition seriously. A flag bearer of the semi-independent republic of Transnistria FC Sheriff has been a prestige project of the Sheriff security company, which was founded by the former Soviet policeman Victor Gusan. Transnistria still holds a close link to Russia and the traditions of the former Soviet Union, and for Lokomotiv, the trip to Moldova will be like stepping into a time machine back to a time that is no more. Transnistria still upholds many of the Soviet institutions while at the same time having a club that is considered as one of the most modern regarding infrastructure in the entire post-Soviet space.
This will, therefore, be a game of contrasts. Lokomotiv, of course, represent the former Soviet Ministry of Transportations, which has since been transformed into the semi-private corporation RZhD (Russian Railways). The match will, therefore, represent a game of an old modernised Soviet institution against a modern club in a state in which the Soviet Union never really died.
The history and politics aside this should be an interesting game. Lavish funding has meant that Sheriff have a team that far exceeds any other side in Moldova. International stars are mixed in with the best young talent the country has to over, which is formed in the plush academy of the club. Lokomotiv in the meantime may have lost their last game in the Russian Football Premier League against FC Ufa, but head coach Yuri Semin has his team just two points behind league leaders Zenit in the second spot. Given the gap in quality between the Russian Football Premier League and the Moldovan top flight, Lokomotiv will be the favourites to win the game on Thursday night.
Sheriff vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Players to look out for:
Vitalie Damascan #99 Sheriff Tiraspol
The 18-year-old Moldovan striker has recently turned heads when he scored three goals in Sheriff’s 3-1 win over Dinamo-Auto in the Divizia Nationala. Brought through Zimbru Chisinau’s youth academy Damascan has scored ten goals in 12 Divizia Nationala games in this shortened 2017 season.
Jefferson Farfán #8 – Lokomotiv Moscow
Jefferson Farfán is enjoying a golden fall to his career in Moscow’s capital. Signed as a free-agent during the 2017 January transfer window Farfán was the first signing of new Lokomotiv sporting director Erik Stoffelshaus. Stoffelshaus has previously worked at Schalke, and he remembered the Peruvian forward, who enjoyed a fantastic time with die Knappen in the German Bundesliga. A short spell in the United Arab Emirates with Al-Jazira, however, ended with disappointment and the 32-year-old struggled to find a club in Europe. Lokomotiv took a chance and Farfán has added his experience helping the side win the Russian Cup last spring.
Sheriff vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Match Stats
- All four of Sheriff’s previous UEFA games against Russian teams ended in draws, while Lokomotiv have not played a Moldovan side in a UEFA match before.
- Moldovan champions Sheriff featured in the 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stages, but never advanced to the playoff rounds of the competition.
- Lokomotiv are contesting the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage for a fifth time, and have failed just once to reach the round of 32 – finishing bottom of their group in 2007/08.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Sheriff vs Lokomotiv Moscow 0-4
Sheriff Tiraspol vs Lokomotiv Moscow – Possible Lineups
Mikulic – Cristiano, Posmac, Racu, Susic – Badibanga, Anton, Brezovec, Bayala _ Mugosa, Damascan
Coach: Roberto Bordin
Guilherme – Denisov, Kvirkvelia, Pejcinovic, Rybus – Tarasov, Denisov – Fernandes, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk – Eder
Coach: Yuri Semin
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.