Zenit vs CSKA Moscow – Match Preview

Zenit vs CSKA Moscow – Match Preview

The Russian el clasico Zenit vs CSKA Moscow will be the main attraction of match day four in the Russian Football Premier League. With four matches played CSKA Moscow are currently in third place with seven points, whereas Zenit Saint Petersburg are fifth with five points.

Indeed Zenit, under new manager Mircea Lucescu, had a bit of a slow start to the season, as the club only managed two scoreless ties against Lokomotiv Moscow, and Ufa. Then Zenit had a terrible first half last week against FC Rostov, as the Gazprom owned club was down 2-0 at halftime.


In the first half, Zenit demonstrated that they hadn’t quite understood Lucescu’s highline offensive football. Rostov managed to score after a mistake by keeper Yuri Lodygin, and a second time after Zenit’s defensive line was caught too far up the field.

But then in the second half, Lucescu’s men demonstrated that they were finally starting to adapt to their new coache’s high tempo game. Zenit battered Rostov with chances, and managed to overturn the result after goals from the newly signed Brazilian, Giuliano, and own goals by Saeid Ezatolahi, and by the young Montenegrian, Luka Djordjević.

The second half against Rostov, in particular, gives hope to Zenit fans that the players have finally understood Lucescu’s 4-3-3 formation, and that the club can successfully challenge CSKA Moscow on Saturday.

CSKA Moscow, meanwhile, have somewhat met expectations at the start of the season. Two wins and one tie are, on paper, good results. Yet, at the same time, CSKA Moscow only managed a 0-0 draw against Anzhi Makhachkala, and a 1-0 victory against newly promoted Orenburg, and another 1-0 victory against Ural Yekaterinburg.

Although Leonid Slutsky’s sides have always been low-scoring affairs, two goals against clubs that are likely to finish in the bottom half of the table are not good enough for a club that is supposed to be challenging once again for the Russian championship.

The club seems to be struggling especially due to the loss of former star striker Ahmed Musa, who was sold to Leicester City in the summer, and his replacement Lacina Traoré has so far failed to live up to expectations.

Hence, Zenit, which in recent head to head matches have won both the Russian Cup and the Super Cup against CSKA, will be once again be the favourites going into the tie at the Petrovsky Stadium on Saturday.

Possible Line-ups


Formation: 4-3-3

Lodygin – Criscito, Garay, Neto, Smolnikov – Witsel, Garcia, Giuliano – Shatov, Kokorin, Zhirkov

CSKA Moscow

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Akinfeev – Shennikov, Vasily Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Mário Fernandes – Wernbloom, Dzagoev – Golovin, Eremenko, Tosić – Traoré

By Manuel Veth –