This is Spartak! Muscovite club ends 16 year title drought

spartak

Spartak Moscow 2017 Champions

Russian Premier League side Spartak Moscow were crowned champions on the 7th May beating Siberian side Tom Tomsk 1-0 in front of 42,000 spectators at the Otkritie Arena.

They won the league with three games left to go, after beating Tom Tomsk, Spartak travelled to Perm to face Amkar. The Muscovite side were once again victorious and travelled back to the Russian capital with a 1-0 win over the Krasno-chernye (The Red and Blacks).

Their last home game of the season was against Chechen side Terek Grozny and comfortably beat Rashid Rakhimov’s side 3-0.

Denis Glushakov put the home side in the lead in the fifteenth minute and slotted a low shot passed Terek keeper Evgeniy Gorodov.

Four minutes later Spartak doubled their lead, Zé Luís sent a short pass to Glushakov, both who were inside the Terek box, the former Lokomotiv player cooly chipped the ball over Gorodov, scoring his eighth goal of the season for The Red-Whites.

The Moscow side could have made it 4-0 just before half time with chances coming from Quincy Promes and Glushakov respectively.

In the seventy-third minute Spartak made it 3-0, Dutch International Quincy Promes went on a darting run into the Terek box, skimmed past the Chechen side’s defence and fired a low shot into the keeper’s left handside of the goal.

Despite losing their final game of the 3-0 in Tula against Arsenal, Spartak won the league with sixty nine points, city rivals CSKA came second with sixty two points, and Zenit finished third with sixty one Points.

Back in the 2000/2001 season, the Moscow side finished the season in first place with sixty points under Oleg Romantsev and beat city rivals Lokomotiv by four points to clench the domestic title.

Foreign Influence at Spartak

Quincy Promes Spartak Moscow

Image source: Soccer Sweep

It’s fair to say Spartak’s foreign influence has definitely contributed to winning the Russian Premier League title.

Dutch talisman Quincy Promes has scored twelve goals in twenty six appearances for the Moscow side, Zé Luís has also played a key part, scoring five goals from twenty one appearances.

A lot of credit goes to tactician Massimo Carrera for getting his team to play as formidable unit, something previous foreign managers at Spartak have failed to achieve.

Carrera’s caretaker manager position at Juventus definitely helped shape his management skills, during his ten games in charge of the Bianconeri, he won seven games and drew three, in addition, adding the Italian Super Cup to his CV.

The former Juve and Napoli player brought the Italian game with him to Moscow, Spartak this season have focused on improving their defence which has drastically improved since last year. In the 2015/2016 season, The Red Whites kept eleven clean sheets in thirty games, in contract, this season, Spartak kept fourteen clean sheets after twenty eight games.

Not only have they been defensively robust, they have had the attacking arsenal with the likes of Quincy Promes’ dangerous runs and causing havoc in the opposition’s half and also providing essential assists to his team mates.

Not only has the Italian created an all strength team, he has more importantly created a different style of thinking at the Otkritie Arena. This season we’ve seen a resilient and tenacious Spartak team, something former foreign and domestic managers have failed to achieve. Beating the likes of rival sides such as CSKA and Zenit clearly showed just how much they have improved under Massimo Carrera’s leadership.

Sustaining Spartak’s Winning Elements

Massimo Carrera Tifo

Image source: Ultras Tifo

Spartak next season have Champions League football to look forward to, any team that travels to Moscow will not expect a walk in the park, it will be interesting how they get on and definitely fancy them to surprise many teams.

It will also be interesting to see if Quincy Promes will stay or leave the Moscow club, either way, it’s a win-win situation. If he stays, he will provide vital assists and goals, on the other hand if he goes to a bigger club, Spartak will definitely receive a decent amount for the twenty five year old Dutchman.

It’s fair to say that it’s exciting times at the Otkritie Arena, not only have the regained the Russian title, they’ve adopted a philosophy that now works to their advantage. With Carrera at the helm, we’ll definitely be expecting him to conjure up some more winning elements into the Spartak side.

*Top image taken from Ultras Tifo

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A look into Algeria’s World Cup opener

Algeria

After writing a brief post on the Iranian national team I thought I would continue with more ‘alternative’ World Cup themed posts. After watching Algeria’s opening campaign against Belgium and also like Iran being one of the lesser known teams in the tournament I thought I would gain an insight into the North African side’s recent game.

Algeria which has a population of around 38,700,000 inhabitants were the last African team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and beat Burkina Faso in the second leg play-off place on away goals after a 3-2  first league defeat, Madjid Bougherra’s scrambled goal just before half time confirmed their place in Brazil. The Fennec Foxes have previously played in three World Cups (Spain ’82, Mexico ’86,  and the 2010 South Africa World Cup).

Last Tuesday Algeria faced Belgium at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte and lost 2-1. The Fennec Foxes took lead in the 25th minute, Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli converted from the spot; Algeria’s fan favourite was brought down by Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen and as a result referee Marco Rodríguez booked the 27 year old Spurs centre back.

In the 70th minute The Red Devils equalised, Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne found Marouane Fellaini in space who then headed the ball past Raïs M’Bolhi. Things went from bad to worse for the Algerians ten minutes later when substitute Dries Mertens put the game to bed by slotting the ball past M’Bolhi from close range from a well worked Belgian counter attack.

Similar to what the Iranian team has done in their recent games, Algeria sat back and let Belgium come into their half of the pitch. This actually worked for the North African side as Spurs’ Nacer Chadli failed to connect with Kevin De Bruyne on a number of occasions. Dries Mertens later replaced Chadli in the second half, manager Marc Wilmots’ tactical change had the desired effect that he was looking for as the Napoli player  as previously mentioned scored the winner in the 80th minute.

One major factor for Algeria was their talisman Sofiane Feghouli, the majority of The Fennec Foxes’ chances came from the Valencia player. Anyone who watches La Liga will know about the Algerian’s creativity and he showed his creative side once more by causing a threat in The Red Devils‘ final third.

One thing that was definitely part of Algeria’s plan as previously mentioned was to sit back and also to hit the Belgians on the break. Tonight they face South Korea at Internacional‘s Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre at 8pm GMT.

Hong Myung-Bo’s side drew 1-1 in their opening game against Russia in Cuiabá. The Taegeuk Warriors are undefeated against African opposition in the World Cup (they beat Togo 2-1 in 2006 and drew 2-2 with Nigeria in 2010).

It looks like Algerian manager Vahid Halilhodžić will stick to his 4-3-3 formation that he used against Belgium, according to sports stat site B Sports Halilhodžić could use Islam Slimani as a lone striker and use Feghouli on the right and Soudani on the left wings respectively. Having someone like Ferghouli on the wing would definitely help in terms of creativity and also ideal for whipping balls in from the right hand side.

I am going to go for 1-1 draw in Porto Alegre, South Korea failed to make chances against Russia and will most likely have a tough time in creating many chances against a well disciplined Algerian back four. Algeria also failed to make many chances against Belgium, the stats reveal that The Fennec Foxes had only three shots in the game.