RPL Matchday 11: Schwarz derby baptism of fire, Moses parts the sea, something new, old, borrowed and blue

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We have picked out the key angles to look out for on matchday 11 of the Russian Premier Liga.

Baptism of fire for new Dynamo boss Schwarz

Headlining this upcoming weekend of Russian Premier Liga action is the second of two Moscow derbies as third-placed CSKA take on Dynamo with new manager Sandro Schwarz at the helm. The short trip across town could hardly have given the 41-year-old German coach a tougher start to life in the RPL with their rivals currently on a run of four wins from their last five league matches. Dynamo have the chance to leapfrog CSKA though, resting two points behind them as things stand, so there is an instant chance for Schwarz to endear himself to Dynamo fans.

His assimilation will be helped by a reunion of sorts with sporting director Zeljko Buvac, who was assistant manager to Jurgen Klopp at 1. FSV Mainz 05 when Schwarz was a player there. Another familiar face will belong to one of his assistants; former Ukrainian international striker and former Dynamo player Andriy Voronin will be on the new coaching staff as well. 

Schwarz has relatively limited experience as a top-flight manager that amounts to keeping Mainz afloat in the Bundesliga for the last two seasons in a row. He patiently bided his time through the youth ranks at Mainz - having managed and assisted at lower-league clubs beforehand - before he got his chance three years ago. He left his position almost a year ago though, so will have little time to get back up to speed.

CSKA Moscow have their own concerns though, with Hordur Magnusson suspended and injuries to Georgi Schennikov, Kirill Nababkin and Bruno Fuchs. They are facing the tightest defensive record in the league with Dynamo only having conceded five goals all season to date, and haven’t beaten the Blue-Whites in their last six encounters.

On a wing and a prayer: Can Moses part the Red (and Black) sea?

Spartak Moscow have strengthened their squad even further with the loan signing of Chelsea winger Victor Moses, just in time to face city rivals FC Khimki. The 29-year-old Nigerian international is embarking on his 14th season as a senior professional already, but has had to spend plenty of time looking for a permanent home on the pitch. His last appearance for the club that employs him was over two years ago, while this is his sixth loan spell since arriving in west London.

Where exactly he will play remains to be seen. Although he started out as an electric, raw winger at Crystal Palace, he was successfully converted to a wing-back in 2016/17 at Chelsea by Antonio Conte in a 3-4-3 system, and played on the right in a 3-5-2 formation under the Italian at Inter Milan last season. His versatility will be a major asset to Domenico Tedesco as they chase a first title in four years.

While Spartak are clear favourites to pick up all three points, Khimki have some hope. They have scored in all of the last seven league matches, including in their first win of the season against Dynamo two matchdays ago, and are also unbeaten in their last two home games. They also have the potential opportunity to escape from the relegation playoff zone if they claim an unlikely victory as added incentive.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Not many people expected FC Sochi to be flying so high in the RPL table early in the season, and even fewer that they would still be in the European places with a third of the campaign completed. Their trip to St. Petersburg to take on the reigning champions is therefore of much more direct significance than expected with only two points separating the sides.

No fewer than nine of the visitors’ squad will be returning to face their former club. Nikolay Zabolotny was in the Zenit youth system for three years, while Emmanuel Mamana, Ivan Novoseltsev, Miha Mevlja, Elmir Nabiullin, Ibragim Tsallagov, Artur Yusupov, current RPL top goalscorer Chrisitian Noboa and Anton Zabolotny all previously featured for the first team at some point.

Mathematically Sochi could even finish the weekend at the top of the table again with a win at the Gazprom Arena. It would depend on other results, but with Zenit having dropped points four times in their last six RPL matches there will be an opportunity for many points to be proven.

Champions League Krasnodar take on Rubin in mid-table battle

Usually a mid-table clash wouldn’t arouse a great deal of interest in itself, but when those two teams are a resurgent Rubin Kazan away to Champions league group stage debutants FC Krasnodar it is a different matter. Next week Murad Musaev takes his side to France to take on Rennes, and one of the most exciting teenage talents in world football in Eduardo Camavinga. The 17-year-old midfielder has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Boy award that includes Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba amongst its previous winners.

First though, they must stop another electric teenager in Rubin sensation Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The winger scored his first goal for Georgia during this recent international break, and has attempted more dribbles per 90 minutes than any other player in Europe this season. After two goals and four assists for Leonid Slutsky’s side this season already, it will take some considerable focus to prevent him from troubling the Krasnodar penalty area.

Aleksey Ionov, Evgeny Chernov and Evgeny Markov could all make their debuts for the Bulls after completing transfers in the last fortnight. The last time Krasnodar played at home was almost exactly a month ago - and that time they broke their club record score in the top flight with a 7-2 thrashing of Khimki. With Rubin level on points though, it will surely be a much closer affair.


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