Spartak and Rostov try to keep pace with the top

Spartak and Rostov try to keep pace with the top

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov – Sunday, September 30, 17:00 BST/18:00 CEST / 19:00 MSK – Otkritie Arena, Moscow, Russia

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov will take place at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov will take place at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

The Russian Premier Liga match of the week will take place at the Otkritie Arena in Moscow. Fifth-placed Spartak will play host to fourth-placed Rostov. Both teams went into the matchday one place higher, but CSKA Moscow’s victory on Friday over Orenburg meant that for two nights only the Red Army team will be ahead in the standings above both teams.

As a result, this will be a game similar to a gambling exercise at Spartak, in particular, will be under pressure. The Moscow-based giants are the most popular club in Russia. Similar to Liverpool in England the club carries the hearts and minds of many million followers in Europe’s biggest country. 

There is also another similarity to Liverpool. The English Reds are the team of the people but also of many journalists and, therefore, are one of the most widely covered teams in England. In Russia, Spartak are a similar phenomenon. Spartak are the pick of many journalists working at the big papers Sport-Ekspress, Sovetsky Sport and, the coverage is often very hot or very cold.

During the championship season, the club received very positive press. At the moment, however, the writers have turned completely against Spartak and head coach Massimo Carrera. The Italian guided Spartak to the championship two years ago but even then he was not universally loved by the press. Now that he missed out on qualifying for the Champions League and his side has dropped off the pace set by Spartak the media fire has been relentless.

Spartak are, therefore, under pressure.  Rostov, on the other, hand have once again provided a feel-good story in Russian football. Playing in the brand new Rostov World Cup Arena, the Selmashi have averaged 31,323 visitors per game this season.

Furthermore, the story of the magic carpet, which a fan has brought to every home game this season, has gone around the world. The lucky carpet is a great story, but it is not what has carried the club through this season thus far.

Instead, it is good fundamental football taught by head coach Valeri Karpin that has carried the club. Karpin has built a team that includes four Icelandic stars and Russian Premier Liga journeymen that know the league inside out.

Karpin, a former Spartak Moscow legend – he played for the club and coached the side in from 2009 to 2012 as well as a second spell from late 2012 to 2014. There have even been whispers that Karpin could be among the potential replacements should Spartak’s results not improve this season.

Whether there is any truth to such rumours remains to be seen. One thing is certain Karpin knows the way his former club plays and his team play a fundamentally strong brand of football that could hurt Spartak.

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov – Players to look out for:

Fernando #11 – Spartak Moscow

The Brazilian Fernando is Spartak Moscow’s key player. The 26-year-old defensive midfielder anchors the club’s midfield and with his dangerous freekicks can contribute goals and assists. In seven games Fernando has already scored one goal and one assist. Defensively, Fernando is a weapon with the ability to plug holes and make the sort of tackles that can turn a tide.

Spartak's Fernando (r.) is the dominant force in Spartak's midfield. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Spartak’s Fernando (r.) is the dominant force in Spartak’s midfield. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Vidar Örn Kjartansson #23 – FC Rostov

Vidar Örn Kjartansson is one of four Icelandic players in the side. The 28-year-old striker was signed from Maccabi Tel-Aviv this summer. Kjartansson failed to make the 2018 FIFA World Cup squad despite scoring ten goals in 20 league games for Maccabi and then spent the summer playing eight Europa League qualifiers in which he scored three goals in eight games. Signed on transfer deadline day, Kjartansson has been slowly integrated into the squad but played in the Russian Cup midweek where he scored twice in Rostov’s 4-0 win against Syzran-2003.

Vidar Örn Kjartansson was signed from Maccabi Tel- Aviv this summer (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Vidar Örn Kjartansson was signed from Maccabi Tel- Aviv this summer (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov – Match Stats

  • Both Rostov and Spartak have collected 15 points in eight games thus far.
  • Spartak won last season’s home match against Rostov 2-0.
  • Spartak’s record against FC Rostov is W30 D9 L9.

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Spartak Moscow vs Rostov – 2-1

Spartak Moscow vs Rostov – Lineups

Spartak Moscow:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Maksimenko – Melgarejo, Bocchetti, Dzhikiya, Rasskazov – Popov, Fernando, Zobnin – Hanni, Luiz Adriano, Samedov

Head Coach: Massimo Carrera

FC Rostov:

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Pesyakov – Shchadin, Boben, Hadzikadunić, Logashov – Salétros – Zuev, Yusupov, Majer, Shomurodov – Kjartansson

Head Coach: Valeri Karpin

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. 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 is available HERE. 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.