Is “Zenith” playing a giveaway? CSKA ended a terrible streak of defeats in matches with the champion


The champion arrived in the capital extremely annoyed by the unexpected departure from the Russian Cup from Dynamo, and on his own field too. Now the club has one task left – to win the Russian championship for the fifth time in a row. The task is quite technical, given the superiority of Sergei Semak’s team in the selection of interpreters and the instability of the so-called pursuers. The day before, Spartak lost in Orenburg and allowed Rostov to take second place.

However, it was important for Semak to win at VEB Arena to get the team back in good shape. Statistics spoke in favor of this achievement: in six previous meetings with the army team, he consistently won victories and has not lost since 2018. Cons – the absence of the most important destroyer in the middle of the field of the injured Wilmar Barrios . His role was taken by the versatile Douglas Santos, while Claudinho moved to the top three. The vacancy on the left wing in defense went to Daniil Krugovoy, who has appeared just once since the opening minutes in this RPL draw.

Photo source: Vyacheslav Evdokimov / FC Zenit

CSKA also approached this match in a good mood. Firstly, last weekend they finally managed to win in the Premier League (4:0 with Krylya Sovetov), ​​​​​​and in the middle of the week they pulled off a difficult match for the Cup in Samara (2:2). And secondly, on the eve of the meeting with Zenit, more than eight hundred (!) Fans watched the team’s training. Fan ID has pushed them out of the stands, but fans find opportunities to interact with their favorites. Naturally, this training was very sincere.


The first half showed that in the absence of Barrios, Zenit needed two Douglas Santos – in the center of the field and in the usual position on the left in defense. Because without him, Petrograd simply has no one to take the ball away from the defense. Vladimir Fedotov, as a master of tactics, read this development of events, and CSKA from the first minutes began to put pressure on the opponent very powerfully, which completely destroyed his game.

No one was idle in this pressure, and Fedor Chalov and Anton Zabolotny even scored it for selection in the opponent’s half (the latter, however, with a foul that Sergei Karasev missed). The blue-white-blue didn’t come up with a clear recipe, but Claudinho sank very deep into the situation several times. He has enough technique to keep the ball under pressure.

Photo source: Vyacheslav Evdokimov / FC Zenit

As a result, the first half of the half was dictated by the hosts, and the most important person was Jesus Medina, whom the partners repeatedly brought to the blow. The only pity is that the Paraguayan categorically lacks any kind of strike.

Akinfeev versus Kerzhakov

“Zenith” was honored to strike for the first time only half an hour later, but immediately after the injury of Igor Diveev (for no apparent reason he grabbed his side and was replaced by Kirill Nababkin) created a moment killer – found Daler Kuzyaev Mateo Cassierra in the penalty area with a soft penetrating pass on the move, whose Igor Akinfeev pulled off a point-blank shot from the corner. Too bad for Diveev, who hasn’t played in the RPL since September! It took so long to recover, and again some health issues…

However, the Army team did not stay in debt. They also made two big attacks at the end of the half. Chalov completed the first, breaking through the defenders’ leg palisade, but Kerzhakov managed to fight back, then the teammates famously brought Zabolotny to the ball, but he awkwardly picked up the ball.

Photo source: Vyacheslav Evdokimov / FC Zenit

Semak needed to do something and decided to change the scheme. Dmitry Chistyakov replaced Vyacheslav Karavaev and Zenit switched to a three centre-back match with Krugov and Kuzyaev on the wings.


The changes worked. St. Petersburg really took the initiative after the break: they began to not only have more possession, but also to do it much more significantly and further from the goal. Better control of the ball led to the fact that the army team lost the advantage of counterattacks. Simply because the interceptions/tackles became much less, and in the other half they disappeared altogether. Troika Medina – Zabolotny – Chalov was left without the ball and prospects.

However, football is not always logical. In the 72nd minute, CSKA made a rather slow positional attack, which Chalov tried to end with not the strongest and most dangerous shot from distance, but the ball bounced off Douglas Santos and jumped into the far corner. Kerzhakov did not have time to adjust to the new trajectory and reach out.

Then a tactical duel of coaches began. Semak replaced the inert Claudinho with Mantova, Fedotov responded with the departure of defensive midfielder Maxim Mukhin in place of the ineffective Medina. The finish turned out to be jittery and could end with anything, but the Army team turned out to be more successful and defended their victory, which allowed them to close the gap from third place to five points. Zenit still have a fairly reliable seven-point lead over Rostov.

RPL. 20th round

CSKA-Zenit-1:0 (0:0)

Objective: Chalov, 72 – 1:0.

CSKA: Akinfeev, Rosha, Diveev (Nababkin, 34), Moizes, Gaich, Zdelar, Mendes, Oblyakov, Medina (Mukhin, 75), Chalov, A. Zabolotny.

“Zenith”: Kerzhakov, Karavaev (Chistyakov, 46), Rodrigao, Renan, Krugovoi (Erokhin, 82), D. Santos, Kuzyaev (Z. Bakaev, 90), Wendel (Sutormin, 90), Malcolm, Claudinho (Mantuan, 74), Cassierra .

Warnings: Rodrigao, 37. Rocha, 54.

Judge: Karashev (Moscow).


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