02.05.2021

Semak’s nine RPL titles: How they happened

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We tell you about all Semak's championship seasons as a player and coach.

Sergey Semak became champion of Russia for the first time with CSKA in 2003. Then he was the Armymen captain of the army for two years, having lost in the golden match to Lokomotiv a season earlier. CSKA won the championship on the season’s penultimate matchday, beating Rotor 3-0 at home with the winning goal scored by current Red-Blues head coach Ivica Olic. That year, Semak scored seven goals, and each time his team won.

The midfielder won his next title in 2008 in his first season for Rubin. In the five years between those titles, Semak managed to play another year for CSKA (2004), go to PSG (2005) and spend two seasons with FC Moscow (2006-2007). In January 2008, the player signed a three-year contract with Rubin and was immediately named team captain. The side started with eight consecutive wins and clinched their first ever championship on 2 November, when they beat Saturn 2-1 three matchdays before the end of the season.

Semak started 2009 with a goal against Kuban Krasnodar, and scored a total of six goals in the RPL. In five of those matches Rubin won, with the other ending in a draw. On 23 November, a round before the end of the championship, Rubin were again crowned champions ahead of schedule. Kurban Berdyev’s side drew 0-0 with Zenit, as nearest competitors Spartak lost 3-2 to CSKA.

Semak played for Rubin in the first half of 2010, and signed a contract with Zenit on 6 August. On 14 August, he made his debut for the Blue-White-Blues in a 1-1 draw against Dynamo, but only scored his first goal on 7 November in a 5-2 win over Sibir Novosibirsk. A week later he distinguished himself again, helping Zenit beat Rostov 5-0 on matchday 28 to clinch the title.

Semak started the 2011-12 season with an assist in the 1-0 Super Cup win against CSKA, and in the same match he broke a metatarsal bone which kept him out of action until May. In the summer, the player was out due to the same injury until October, and on his return he scored three goals; against Lokomotiv in November, and against Dynamo and Spartak in March. On 28 April, Zenit beat Dynamo 2-1 at home and retained their crown three matchdays before the end of the championship. It was the fourth title in a row for Semak, as well as for his teammate Aleksandr Bukharov, who had joined Zenit from Rubin a month earlier than Semak in July 2010.

At the end of the 2012/13 season, Semak joined the Zenit coaching staff as an assistant to Luciano Spalletti. After the Italian’s departure in March 2014, he was the acting head coach, then became an assistant to Andre Villas-Boas, with whom he won the championship in the 2014/15 season.

Semak worked with the Portuguese for another year, and after the departure of Villas-Boas, he assisted Mircea Lucescu for six months, but in December 2016 he took charge of Ufa and in the 2017/18 season led Ufa to the best result in the club's history - sixth place in the RPL and Europa League qualification. On 29 May 2018, Semak returned to Zenit as head coach. They started with five wins in a row and led the table for the entire championship. On matchday 27, Semak's men drew 1-1 with Akhmat, and while they were returning by plane to St. Petersburg, they officially became champions as Lokomotiv lost 2-0 to Arsenal, and with it the chance to overtake Zenit.

The following season, Zenit became the earliest champions in RPL history. Semak's team wrapped up the title on matchday 26, when they beat Krasnodar 4-2. Previously, no side had ever won the tournament before matchday 27.

Even before the second championship, Semak extended his contract with St. Petersburg. On the way to the third title, the Blue-White-Blues did not fall below third place, and for the first time in a long time, the team played a title-clinching match in St. Petersburg. On 2 May, Zenit defeated their main challengers Lokomotiv 6-1 at home, and Semak became Zenit’s first coach to win the championship three seasons in a row.

Photo: Vyacheslav Evdokimov/Zenit; CSKA; Rubin


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