Russia

Capital: Moscow
Population: 141.9 million
Currency: Rouble
Official Language: Russian
Borders: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (West), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan (South) China, Mongolia, and North Korea (East). It also has maritime borders with Japan (by the Sea of Okhotsk) and the United States (by the Bering Strait).
GNP per Capita: $15,039 (51st in world)
Main Airport: Sheremetyevo International – Moscow

The Russian Premier League is the top division of Russian football. There are 16 teams in the competition. At the end of the season two teams get relegated to the Russian First Division and get replaced with the two top First Division teams. The Russian Premier League was organized in 2001 and succeeded the Top Division, the difference being that the Top Division was run by the Professional Football League of Russia, and the creation of the Premier League gave the clubs a greater degree of independence. The Top Division had existed from 1992 to 2001.  FC Zenit Saint Petersburg are the current Russian Premier League champions.

Each team in the league plays each opponent twice, one home and once away, for a total of 30 matches. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. If the teams are level on points, the tie-breakers are the number of wins, then the goal difference, followed by several others. If the teams are tied for the first position, the tie-breakers are the number of wins, then head-to-head results. If the teams tied for the first place cannot be separated by these tie-breakers, the championship play-off is ordered.  As of 2006, the champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, and the runners-up for the Champions League qualification. The third-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Cup, and the fourth-placed team for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Two bottom teams are relegated to the First Division.  The league typically runs from March to November.  The league consists of:-

For an overview of the clubs in more detail then go to Footiemap.com.

FC Alania Vladikavkaz – Vladikavkaz – Republican Spartak Stadium – 32,464 Capacity
By the collapse of the Soviet Union, Spartak Vladikavkaz were the only non-Muscovite Russian club competing in the old Soviet Top League. Their most successful season was 1995 when they managed to grab the Russian Premier League champions title, after several years of Spartak Moscow domination having previously won a silver medal for the second place in 1992 and 1996. However in the qualification stages of the UEFA Champions League Alania lost 10-3 on aggregate to Rangers F.C. In season 2005 Alania was relegated from Russian Premier League. On 14 February 2006 Alania and another First Division club, Lokomotiv Chita, were denied professional licences by Professional Football League and excluded from professional football for juridicial irregularities. 3rd place in the second division last season was enough to see them promoted to the top league again.

FC Amkar Perm – Perm – Zvezda Stadium – 20,000 Capacity
Based in the city of Perm and is the easternmost football club in Europe playing in top national competition. Amkar’s home field is Zvezda Stadium, which was covered with artificial turf in 2005Amkar appeared in May 5, 1993 when a team assembled of workers of Perm Mineral Fertilizers factory played the first match in the Cup of Perm city. The name Amkar is created from the words “ammoniac” and “carbamide”, the main products of the factory. The next year Amkar became the champion of Perm Oblast and in 1995 Amkar became a professional club. In 2009 after a strong season, Amkar qualified for the Europa League but lost to Fulham F.C., therefore missing out the group stage.

FC Anzhi Makhachkala – Makhachkala – Dinamo Stadium – 20,000 Capacity
Based in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan. The club was founded in 1991 and has played in the Russian league since 1992. In 1992 the team entered the Second Division and played there until promotion in 1996, when Eduard Malofeev coached them. In 1999 Anzhi won the First Division. In 2000 the team debuted in the Top Division and just missed the bronze medals. A penalty was awarded against Anzhi on the 95th minute of the last league match, and Torpedo converted it to clinch the third position. Anzhi finished fourth, recording the best result in club’s history. In 2001 they reached the final of the Russian Cup, but lost to Lokomotiv on penalties. Anzhi were relegated from the Premier League in 2002 and play in the First Division since then. Anzhi won the championship of First League in 2009 and promoted again to Premier League after 7 years of absence. Anzhi participated in the UEFA Cup 2001-02. Their opponents were Rangers F.C. Instead of usual home-and-away fixtures, UEFA decided to hold a single match in neutral venue (Warsaw) due to the unstable situation in neighbouring Chechnya. Rangers won the match 1-0.

FC Krylya Sovetov Samara -Samara – Metallurg Stadium – 33,220 Capacity
Based in Samara. In 2004 they finished third in the Russian Premier League. The name “Krylya Sovetov” means “Soviet Wings”. FC Krylya Sovetov Samara was founded in 1942. Krylya Sovetov participated in 48 championships of the USSR and 13 Russian Championships, as well as 43 USSR Cups and 13 Russian Cups.During the second round of the season of 1953 the team bore the name of Zenit. On 6 July 2002 Krylya Sovetov first played in a European competition, in the second round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup. They won this game with Dinaburg (Daugavpils, Latvia) played in Metallurg Stadium, by a score of 3-0. The goals were scored by Andrei Karyaka, Robertas Poškus, and Rogério Gaúcho. In 2005 the team played in UEFA Cup 2005-06 and defeated BATE Borisov in the 2nd qualifying round (2-0, 2-0), but in the 1st round lost to AZ Alkmaar (5-3, 1-3). In 2009 they were eliminated in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round by St Patrick’s Athletic.

FC Rostov – Rostov – Olimp Stadium – 12,436 Capacity
Based in the city of Rostov-on-Don in the south of Russia. The club was founded in May, 1930 and was known before 1953 as Traktor. In 1950, the club started in RSFSR’s championship where competed for three (3) consecutive seasons.The club has won the First League and advanced back to the Premier League in 2009. Second part of the season was not as successful as the first one. Until the last game of the season it was not clear if the Rostov will be a part of the Russian Premier League next year. But in the last game against Amkar Perm, Rostov was able to gain one point, which allowed the team to stay in the Premier League for at least one more year.The stadium was built in 1930 and was known as Rostselmash plant stadium before 1996, as Rostselmash in 1996–2002 and as Olimp – 21 vek (Olympus – 21st century) in 2002-2005. The capacity of the stadium peaked at 32,000 in 1950s, when the second tier of stand was built. Olimp – 2 is currently undergoing a reconstruction started in 2006 which lead to a decrease of capacity to 12,436. The reconstruction involves building a new stand, by its completion the capacity of the stadium will reach 30,000.

FC Rubin Kazan –  Kazan – 30,133 Capacity
Based in the city of Kazan (Tatarstan republic). Rubin won the Russian Premier League championship for 2009, its second straight league title. Rubin was previously called “Iskra” from 1958 to 1964, and then “Rubin-TAN” from 1992 to 1993. Having never played in the Soviet Top League, Rubin were promoted to the Russian Premier League in 2003, finishing third in their debut season to qualify for the UEFA Cup. Their 2004 campaign was less successful as they came 10th, but 2005 saw them finish 4th, again qualifying for the UEFA Cup. In 2008, Rubin won the league championship to qualify for the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League Group stage, making them the easternmost team to play in the competition. Their championship season began with a league record seven consecutive wins, including victories against defending champions Zenit Saint Petersburg. Rubin clinched its first championship in club history and became only the third club from outside Moscow to win the Russian Premier League (after Spartak-Alania Vladikavkaz and Zenit St Petersburg). On 20 October 2009, Rubin recorded a shock win over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League at Camp Nou. This was followed by a 0–0 draw at home two weeks later. On 21 November 2009, Rubin secured a 0–0 draw against Zenit St Petersburg to win the Russian Premier League championship for the second season in a row.In 2010 Rubin won the CIS Cup, becoming the first Russian team since 2005 to win that title. In the final Rubin had beaten FC Aktobe 5-2.

FC Sibir Novosibirsk – Novosibirsk – Spartak Stadium – 12,500 Capacity
Based in Novosibirsk. The club was founded in 1936. In 1992 Chkalovets entered the newly formed Russian First League and in 1994 was moved to the Russian Second League after the reduction of the First League. In 1994 Chkalovets were promoted to the First League, where they played in 1995 and 1996. In 1996 Chkalovets finished last among 22 teams and were relegated to the Second League. In 2000 Chkalovets merged with Olimpik Novosibirsk, keeping their place in the Second League, and the team named Chkalovets-1936 entered the amateur league (KFK). According to Sibir and independent sources, it is Chkalovets-1936 that inherits the history of the Soviet club. Chkalovets-1936 were promoted to the Second League after the 2000 season, and in 2004 they won promotion to the First Division. They changed their name as Sibir in 2006 and promoted to Russian Premier League once after finishing First League as 2nd in 2009.

PFC Spartak Nalchik – Nalchik – Spartak Stadium – 14,400 Capacity
Based in Nalchik. Spartak has played in Russian Premier League since 2006. Spartak Nalchik was founded in 1959 and played in the regional “B-class” tournament. In 1965, Spartak won the competition and was promoted into “A-class”, second group. Spartak played in that tournament from 1966 to 1970. After reorganization of Soviet league system, Spartak played in the Soviet Second League (1971, 1977, 1978, 1981–1989) and Soviet First League (1972–1976, 1979, 1980), having been promoted and relegated several times. In 1990 and 1991 Spartak played in the Buffer League. The club’s best result was a 14th position in the First League in 1974 and 1975. The club has won the title of champions of RSFSR in 1965 and 1970. In 1992, Spartak Nalchik was entitled to enter Russian First Division. The club was relegated after the 1993 season, but earned promotion back in 1995, after two seasons spent in the Russian Second Division. From 1996 to 2005 Spartak again played in the First Division. In 2005, the team finished second and earned promotion to the Premier League. They were the leaders of Premier League between 10th and 15th rounds in 2006 season. Finally they finished 9th.

FC Tom Tomsk –Tomsk – Trud Stadium – 15,000 Capacity
Based in the Siberian city of Tomsk.In the 1990s the team acquired a number of players that would help them begin their ascent out of the Russian Second Division. Victor Sebelyev, Valery Konovalov and Ruslan Akhidzhak were key players of the early part of the decade with Sergei Ageyev, Vyacheslav Vishnevskii and Dmitry Kudinov strengthening the team as they made a run on the division championship. In 1996, the team finished 2nd in the division, just falling short of promotion to the Russian First Division. In 1997, Tomsk finally achieved a significant goal when the advanced to the First Division with a strong season. However, the team had a long way to go before they would make another run on a division title. Following promotion, the team acquired a number of new players including Sergei Zhukov, Andrei Talalaev and Mikhail Murashov to help keep the team in the First Division. However, Tomsk suffered a blow when their newly privatised sponsor, Eastern Oil Company (VNK) pulled out and left the team with no sponsor. At this point, advancement was a pipe dream with survival in the tougher division becoming a priority. It was at this point that the team also had to upgrade their stadium to new standards of the league. The team played middling football for several years until the arrival of a new sponsor brought in needed funds and allowed the team to acquire new players and begin to compete. Third-place finishes in 2002 and 2003 left the team just short of promotion. However, the 2004 season brough new joy and Tomsk finished second in the division, earning promotion for the 2005 season. The 2005 season saw Tomsk survive their first year in top-flight football with a 10th place finish. In 2006, the team improved its position slightly with an 8th place finish but in 2007, the club slipped to an 11th place finish. The former jersey sponsor Tomskneft, a local subsidiary of Yukos, has recently been sold to new investors. Today, the team is sponsored by the regional authorities. The club’s directors disclosed that the club needed to raise funds or it would go out of business due to debts of 200 million roubles in June 2009.

FC Terek Grozny – Grozny, Chechnya – Sultan Bilimkhanov Stadium – Capacity 10,365
Originally founded in 1946, as Dynamo, it changed the name in 1948 to Neftyanik and in 1958 to Terek. In the 1990s the club was disbanded for some time due to the war in Chechnya. From the 1990s to 2007 the club played its home games in the neighbouring resort city of Pyatigorsk, Stavropol Krai. Before the start of the 2008 Premier League season, the Russian Football Union granted Terek the right to host Premier League matches in Grozny. They won the Russian Cup by beating Krylya Sovetov Samara at the final and the Russian First Division in 2004, but did not participate in the Russian championship on any level during First and Second Chechen Wars. In 2004 they advanced through the UEFA Cup qualification by beating Polish team Lech Poznań 1-0 in both legs but lost to Swiss outfit FC Basel in the first round. They played in the Russian Premier League in 2005 but were relegated after finishing last. Terek finished second in the First Division in 2007 and were promoted back into the Premier League.

FC Zenit St Petersburg – St Petersburg – Petrovsky Stadium – 21,570 All Seater
See sectiob below on Zenit and football in St Petersburg in general

PFC CSKA Moscow – Moscow – Dinamo Stadium – 36,000 All Seater
See section below on CSKA and football in Moscow in general

FC Dynamo Moscow – Moscow – Dinamo Stadium – 36,000 All Seater
See section below on Dinamo and football in Moscow in general

Spartak Moscow – Luzhniki Stadium – 80,000 All Seater
See section below on Spartak and football in Moscow in general

FC Lokomotiv Moscow – Moscow – Lokomotiv Stadium – 28,800 Capacity
See section below on Lokomotiv and football in Moscow in general

FC Moskva – Moscow – Eduardo Strelov Stadium – 14,274 All Seater
See section below on FC Moskva and football in Moscow in general

FC Saturn Moscow Oblast –  Ramenskoe – 16,726 Capacity
See section below on FC Saturn and football in Moscow in general

Pictures on this page courtosey of WorldStadiums.com

FOOTBALL IN MOSCOW

The Dinamo Stadium – Capacity: 36,450 All Seater

The Stadium – The Dinamo Stadium
36 Leningradsky Prospect, Moscow 125190
The Russian ground merry-go-round continues at a pace as the Dinamo stadium is now home to Dinamo Moscow and new tenants CSKA Moscow.  However, the stadium is now showing signs of age, having originally opened in 1928.  Amazingly, considering the harsh climate in eastern Russia, the stadium is completely uncovered, offering no protection from the wind, rain and snow that categorises the Russian seasons.

One of the most notable things about the stadium is the huge floodlights that seem to have enough light bulbs to light up the whole city, let alone the stadium at night.  Seats are of the bolted onto the terrace type, meaning that they have little legroom and the rake of the steps is poor.  That said, the stadium does look quite smart in the sunshine, but very miserable when the autumn rains start.  The ground has a small athletics track, which pushes the end stands back, adding further issues to those fans behind the goal.  Very little has changed in terms of stadium feel and design since the ground was chosen to host the 1980 Olympics football tournament.

Who Plays There? CSKA Moscow
http://www.pfc-cska.com
The former Red Army team were considered for most of their history as Moscow’s third team, behind the mighty Dinamo, and the new billionaires Spartak.  However in recent years, thanks to the money of their own billionaire, Roman Abramovich and his Sineft Oil company, CSKA have been the team to beat.  They have also broken nearly 20 years of European emptiness by becoming the first Russian (as opposed to Soviet) team to win a European trophy when they captured the UEFA Cup in Sporting Lisbon’s backyard in 2005.

The club were formed in 1911, and did very little in the years during the revolution.  In 1923 the Red Army took control of the club, and retained a major shareholding and ownership right up until the late 1990’s.  The golden period for the club came just after the Second World War when the team won five Soviet Championships and three Soviet Cups between 1945 and 1951.  The club also provided eleven players to the Soviet Olympic Team that won a Gold medal at the Helsinki games.  After the 1951 season the team fell on hard times as the hold of Josep Stalin took effect on Russian life.  The rise of their close city rivals Dinamo also had a major effect on the team.  Their next championship came in the 1970 season, and then the club had to wait until the ultimate Soviet Championship in 1991 to capture the title again.

In 2003 the club turned back to former coach Valery Gazzaev and with Roman’s money the team was rebuilt on a basis of buying the best Russian players, and carefully selected foreign imports such as the Brazilian’s Vagner Love and Jo who fired the club to Russian Premier League Titles in 2003 and 2005, and into the Champions League Group stages where they will be playing Arsenal, Hamburg and Porto.  At the time of going to press the club also look like holding off the challenge of Spartak to take a third Premier League title.
Dinamo Moscow – http://www.fcdynamo.ru
Dinamo Moscow are traditionally known and hated for being the Russian Army Club, although they can actually trace their roots back to the 1880’s when Charles Charnock, an English industrialist based in Moscow, put a factory team together.  The team were the premier team of Moscow during the pre-revolution years, winning the Moscow Championship from 1910 to 1914. After the Revolution in 1917, the club fell into the hands of the Secret Police, the Cheka who were certainly influential in building a formidable team during the early 1920’s.  In 1936, Dinamo won the first ever Soviet Championship, and followed it up with the double in 1937.  The club then regularly won the Soviet Championship, albeit with some strong rumours of influencing the opposition and officials alike.  In 1949 the club’s dominance really came to the fore, with six Championships between 1949 and 1959 along with a couple of Soviet Cup’s.  It was during this period that legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin started his long career with the club.

As the interests of the Interior Ministry was diverted away from football to the Cold War in the 1960’s, the club’s on the field success started to wane.  Two further Championships in 1963 and 1976 were supplemented by Soviet cup wins on four occasions, as well as a European Cup Winners Cup Final appearance in 1972 when they lost to Glasgow Rangers 3-2.

Since the creation of the new Russian order, the club have one solitary Cup final win in 1995 to their name, and they have definitely fallen down the pecking order in terms of football in Moscow.  Last season they finished 8th, but this year they almost need a miracle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.  With just a few games left, they sit second from bottom, and on a long losing streak.  Current manager and ex-Dinamo and Russian International Andrey Kobelev has a mixed squad of internationals at his disposal – including four Brazilians, four Portuguese and a couple of African players.  Despite all of their success, in recent years the club has failed to make an impact at all on European football.  Whilst during the 1970’s and 1980’s they were regular starters in the UEFA Cup, the Champions League qualifying has so far eluded the club.

How to get to the Dinamo Stadium
By far the easiest way to reach the stadium is the Dark Green Metro Line 2 that runs straight through the centre of the city to the Dinamo metro stop.  The ground is just behind this station.  Obviously, on a busy match day this station may be a bit crowded so it may be wise to use the next stop at Aeroporto and then walk back down Leningradsky Prospect.  Dinamo station is 5 stops from Red Square and takes no longer than 10 minutes to complete the journey.

How to get a ticket for the Dinamo Stadium
Ticket prices vary a little depending on whether CSKA or Dinamo are at home.  Tickets for a seat behind the Dinamo goal start from just 300 Roubles (£6) ranging to 4,000 Roubles for a VIP seat (although still uncovered!) that converts to around £80, but will come with all of the trappings of Russian luxury.  For CSKA games (excluding the Champions League), tickets start from 200 Roubles behind the goal (£4) to 2000 Roubles for a VIP seat (£40).  Neither team are very well supported in the grand scheme of things.  Despite being top of the table for most of the season, CSKA only average just 12,000, whilst Dinamo’s crowds have dropped to below 8,500.  A few games do sell out though, such as the derbies versus Spartak and Lokomotiv.  Please bear in mind that CSKA are playing their Champions League matches versus Porto, Hamburg and Arsenal at Lokomotiv’s stadium across town.  Tickets for these games at the smaller stadium will be harder to come by.

Around the Dinamo Stadium
There are a couple of bars at the ground, including an almost Ikea built garden shed in the car park which serves as a meeting point for fans from about 2 hours before kick off.  On the main road there are also a few bars but these tend to be strictly home fans.  As the city centre is so close it may be wiser to stick to the city centre for you pre-match drink.

Lokomotiv Moscow – Lokomotiv Stadium – Capacity – 28,800 All Seater

The Stadium – Lokomotiv Stadium
Bolshaya Cherkizovskaya 125, Moscow 107553
The Lokomotiv stadium is an oasis in the middle of chaos in terms of Russian football grounds.  It was built on the site of the former stadium in 2002, and is a shining beacon of modern design that would not look out of place in the Premiership here in England.  It has four almost identical two-tier stands, all linked together with a pillar at each corner used to hold the roof up.  All of the seats are covered, and offer protection from the harsh Russian elements as well as offering unobstructed views.

Each stand has different colour seats, which helps indicate your stand if you don’t understand the Russian script on your ticket.  The low roof also helps the crowd generate an excellent atmosphere on match days, especially when the visitors are CSKA or Spartak Moscow.

Who Plays There? – Lokomotiv Moscow –http://www.enf.fclm.ru
Lokomotiv are now a serious challenger to the former domination of Russian Football by Spartak and CSKA.  A third place finish in 1994 was their highest placed finish in the new Russian order, and the following season they went one better by finishing runners up to the surprise package Spartak-Alania Vladikavkaz.  After a quiet few years the team bounced back into the limelight with a first ever Russian Cup Final victory in 1996.  In 2002 with the goals of Dimitir Loskov they finally took their first title, repeating the success in 2004.  The following season they led the league almost from day one before a series of strange defeats let in CSKA to take the title and relegating Lokomotiv to third place.

The team have also been one of the most consistent on the European scene out of all of the Russian pretenders.  They reached the European Cup Winners Cup Semi-Finals in 1998 and 1999, losing to Stuttgart and Lazio respectively. In the Champions League they have had a surprising couple of campaigns.  Their first ever campaign was in 2001/02 when they finished third in the group stages after coming through the qualifying rounds.

In 2002/03 they were drawn with Bruges, Barcelona and Galatasarary, and managed to sneak 2nd place in a very open group with an excellent win in Turkey.  In the second group stage the team only managed to gain a single point from their matches versus Bo Russia Dortmund, AC Milan and Real Madrid in a group that couldn’t have really been any harder.

Two years later they pipped Inter Milan into 2nd place behind Arsenal to reach the Round of 16.  There they met in form Monaco who won on away goals, and then went on to reach the final against Porto.  Unfortunately this season’s UEFA Cup campaign lasted 2 matches as the club went out 3-2 on aggregate to the Belgium’s Zulte Waregem.

The current team is managed by Serbian Slavoljub Muslin and includes a huge mixture of nation’s including Cameroonians, Serbs, Brazilians, Ukrainians and even a Scottish player (Garry O’Connor).  As the season draws to a conclusion, Lokomotiv are in second place, just two points behind CSKA with a handful of games left.

How to get to the Lokomotiv Stadium
The stadium is located in the North East quadrant of Moscow, just outside the second ring road.  The area around the stadium isn’t what you would call plush, with a market and a few “budget” supermarkets.  The stadium has its own metro stop on the Red line 1 at Cherkzovskaya that is one stop from the north end of the line.  From Red Square (Oxhotny Ryad) it is 8 stops and around 20 minutes to the stadium.  There is also an overland train station above the Metro station as well – trains here run on the outer Moscow Loop line.

There is an alternative route that involved using the purple line 3 to Partizanskaya (5 stops from Ploshchad Revolutsii in Red Square), and then a 15-minute walk northwards from the station, passing Izmaylovo market on your way.  The final option is a taxi.  You can hail down almost any car in Moscow, and if the driver feels like stopping you can commandeer his car as an unofficial or “gypsy” taxi.  Agree a fee beforehand for the journey but you should not pay more than 200 roubles for the journey from the city centre to the stadium.

How to get a ticket for the Lokomotiv Stadium
Despite having the best-looking stadium in Moscow, the adage that you should “Built it and they will come” hasn’t quite held true for Lokomotiv.  Average attendances at the old ground were always low, reaching at best 6,000 and whilst these have increased to around the 12,000 mark since the completion of the new stadium, it still means a few empty seats each week.  CSKA have moved their Champions League matches versus Hamburg, Arsenal and Porto to the stadium and sold out their first two games versus the Germans and Arsene Wegner’s men.  Tickets for a Lokomotiv match go on sale online via the website from ten days before a game, or can be bought from the ticket booths on the main road to the south of the stadium.  Tickets range in price from 1,400 Roubles (Approx £4.50) behind the goals to 6,000 Roubles for a seat in the VIP section of the West Stand.  Tickets for CSKA’s final Champions League game versus Porto in November start from 3,000 Roubles (£9).

Around the Lokomotiv Stadium
The stadium is located in a mixed area, with commercial properties to the east, residential blocks in the south and woodland to the north and west.  There are a few bars and cafes to the south of the stadium but these are very much home fans only.  Be careful walking from the metro station on evening games, as there have been reports of attacks on foreign fans in this area.  It is best to use the station entrance and exit to the south of the platforms as this brings you out directly onto the main road where the entrance to the stadium is.

The Luzhniki Stadium – Capacity: – 84,745 All Seater

About the Luzhniki
Whilst many see the National Stadium as a relic of the past, UEFA have decided that it is important enough, and more relevantly capable of hosting big games still and awarded it the honour of hosting the 2008 Champions League Final.  The stadium was originally built as part of the Luzhniki Sports Complex for the 1980 Summer Olympics, and is still the biggest stadium in Russia.

It is also one of the few major stadiums in the world that uses artificial grass – although this will have to be replaced for the 2008 Champions League Final.  The stadium originally had a capacity of 103,000 and has hosted events in the past as varied as Show Jumping, Speedway and Ice Hockey.  In 1982 during a UEFA Cup game between Spartak and HFC Haarlem over 60 people were killed in a stampede caused by a last minute goal.  Initially the Soviet media completely ignored the incident, dedicating no more than a paragraph to it in the local press and even then only stating there had been a few minor injuries.  There is now a small plaque at the stadium commemorating those who died.  There is also a magnificent statue of Lenin on the main North Boulevard.

The stadium is very smart looking from the inside, with seats in three bands of yellow, orange and red.  The athletics track does hinder the atmosphere, although the roof does mean that the noise generated by the home fans in the west end of the stadium can be quite intimidating.  The concourse areas are really showing their age though.  Views are unobstructed, and at night the stadium roof is lit up from the outside, making the whole area literally shine.

For most league matches, only the north and south stands are open.  When Torpedo are at home, the fans are placed in the South stand, with any away fans located opposite.  When Spartak are at home, the home fans use the west curve as well.  Crowds for most games are not too impressive.  Torpedo manage to average just 6,200, whilst Spartak have an average of just under 20,000.   In the opening game of the 2006 Champions League, Spartak drew a crowd of 75,101 for their game versus Sporting Lisbon.

Who Plays There?
Spartak Moscow –
http://www.eng.spartak.com
Up until the introduction of Roman’s Roubles at CSKA, Spartak were the team of the new Russian Republic.  From the start of the first Russian Premier League in 1992 until the end of last season, Spartak have won 9 titles – although the last one of these was in 2001.  They have also won the Russian Cup on three occasions although European progress has always eluded them.

Finishing second to CSKA last season at least gave them the opportunity to try and qualify for the Champions League Group Stages.  An unconvincing win over Sheriff in the 2nd round on away goals gave them a tricky tie away at Czech Champions Slovan Liberec.  A 2-1 victory in the Luzhniki however, was enough to take them into the Group stages for the first time since 2002 where they will play Sporting Lisbon, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in a very tough group.  Their European pedigree has been less than successful considering they are Russia’s biggest club.  Their best performance in any competition has been the Semi Final stages which they reached in 1991 in the Champions League, 1993 in the Cup Winners Cup and finally in the UEFA Cup in 1998.

The club can trace is origins back to the early 1920’s when the club were formed as a recreational off-shoot of a Trade Union.  The team won their first Championship in 1936, and followed it up with the double in 1939.  Further titles followed with regularity until the mid 1970’s when the club was relegated.  They returned to the top division in 1978, and won the title the following year.

In 2000 the club was taken over by oil magnate Andreu Chervichenko who owned the Gazprom Oil Company.  Initially funds were made available to strengthen the team including the likes of Fernando Cavenaghi for over £6.5m from River Plate, although this situation was soon reversed and Spartak became a selling club.  Such talent that has left the club recently includes Nemanja Vidic leaving for Manchester United in January 2006.

The current team has an international feel with young talent such as the German Martin Stranzl and ex-Arsenal teenage star Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.  As the Russian season reaches its climax, Spartak are hanging on CSKA Moscow’s shirttails in the top two.  Whilst the club have had a nomadic existence, playing in the last twenty years at Dinamo’s stadium, Lokomtiv’s old stadium and now finally ground-sharing the huge Luzhniki Stadium with Torpedo, moves are afoot to give them a permanent home.  Land has been secured for a new stadium close to Tushino airfield and building should commence in 2006, with a completion date of 2008.


Torpedo Moscow – http://www.torpedo.ru
With so many teams playing at the highest level in Moscow, it is obvious that some will attract more media interest than others.  Torpedo currently sit in the latter category.  The club have had a quiet existence to date, capturing 3 Championships since their inception in 1930, the last one over 30 years ago in 1976.  The club had traditionally been the team of the working classes in the south east of the city, and are named after a car manufacturing plant that funded the club to some extent for many years.  Since the creation of the Russian Premier League in 1992, their best finish was in 2000 when they finished third.

In Europe the club hasn’t hit the headlines either, with their best performance coming in the European Cup Winners Cup with two Quarter Final appearances.  The team currently play at the huge Luzhniki Stadium, although they only average 6,200 for league matches.

However, the same company owns the club as the Luzhniki and so any chances of moving back to their roots at the Eduard Streltsov Stadion are remote.  As the 2006 Russian Premier League season enters its final few games, Torpedo are fighting out a relegation dog-fight with former giants Dinamo Moscow for one of the two remaining places in the drop-zone.

How to get to the Luzhniki Stadium
The Stadium forms the focal point of the whole Sports Complex, and is located on a bend in the Moskova River in the south west of the city.  The State University overlooks the whole area.  The stadium has two metro stops close by, and on a nice day is walkable in around 30 minutes from Red Square along the river, and through Gorky Park.

The closest metro stop is Sportvnaya, which is just to the north of the stadium, almost under the central ring road.  From the city centre, it is just 4 stops or 7 minutes by metro.  To the east of the stadium, and built on a bridge over the Moskova River is the newly constructed station of Universitet, which is one stop further down the line from Sportvnaya.

During the summer, regular river boats also run from the Kremlin and Gorky Park to the landing pier just to the south of the stadium – certainly a much more relaxing and scenic way to reach the stadium in the better weather.

How to get a ticket for the Luzhniki Stadium
With over 65,000 spare seats for most Spartak and Torpedo home league games, turning up a few minutes before kick off is never a problem at the Luzhniki.  The ticket windows are located on the left hand side of the main entrance, at the north end of the stadium.  Once you have bought a ticket, bear in mind that if you are sitting in the South Stand (will say either Section B or C on the ticket) it is a good 10-minute walk around the stadium to go through your gate.  As with most public places in Moscow, terrorism is still a threat and so you will be expected to have any bags inspected as well as going through an airport style metal detector.

Ticket prices vary according to the game.  For a run of the bill “B” grade league game, a seat watching Torpedo in the south stand costs less than 2,000 roubles (£5), whilst prices are almost doubled for Spartak matches.  Spartak recently got over 75,000 for a Champions League match with prices starting from 5,000 Roubles – which in terms of average weekly wages in some parts of Moscow is a significant part of their salary.

Around the Luzhniki Stadium
The stadium forms the central part of the Luzhniki Sports complex, which includes Swimming Pools, Tennis Courts and an indoor arena.  To the north of the stadium in the park, there are a number of marquees erected for each home game which house bars and grills.  These extend right the way up to the metro station.  Whilst these are normally perfectly safe, the police and military presence will be heavy in the area and will crack down on any unruly behaviour and move the fans on.

FC Moskov – Eduard Streltsov Stadion – Capacity: – 14,274 All Seater

About the Eduard Strelsov Stadion
Fans of Brighton & Hove Albion will have some affinity with the Eduard Streltsov Stadium.  Primarily an Athletics track, the club have added stands on all four sides to make a homely stadium, although it is very exposed to the elements, which do tend to be quite harsh for most of the year in Moscow.  The main stand holds around 6,000 seats and this is where the hardcore fans congregate.  At the south end of the stadium you will find the original classic designed buildings that double up as the club’s offices.Whilst there are seats at either end of the stadium, the stands here are not very large, and with the width of the running track, then the perimeter boards, the view is pretty poor.  The best bet for the neutrals is either in the main stand where the views back over the city are quite good on a clear day, or in the smallish stand on the far side where the first row is raised above pitch level.

Who Plays There? – FC Moskow –http://www.fcmoscow.ru
The club got their first chance to experience European football in 2006 as they qualified for the Intertoto Cup.  After beating the Hungarians MTZ-Ripo 3-0 on aggregate they then drew Hertha Berlin, with a place in the UEFA Cup at stake.  After a fantastic 0-0 draw in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, hopes were high for a solid home performance.  However, the German class showed through with a 2-0 victory on the night and on aggregate.  As the Russian season winds down, FC Moscow are sitting comfortably in 5th place.  Although the Top 3 Champions League spots are out of the question, the club could still make the UEFA Cup in the remaining few games.  The team were part of the Torpedo Club until the mid 1990’s, going by the name of Torpedo Zil, the car manufacturer.

When Torpedo were taken over in the mid 1990’s, the Zil works team decided to continue to support a team that were traditionally a lower league club.  In 2003 ZIL sold the team to a local Metal producers and they were renamed as Torpedo-Metallurg.  This new marriage lasted just twelve months before the City Government bailed out the club and gained ownership of Moscow’s newest club.  The club currently play at the Eduard Streltsov Stadion in the south east of the city, which with its 14,000 capacity is more than enough for the average gates of 6,200.

How to get to the Eduard Streltsov Stadion
Located in the Torpedo heartland of South East Moscow, the stadium sits nicely in a public park, and almost hidden from view from the nearby roads.  The easiest way to reach the stadium is to get the Dark Green metro line 2 to Avtozavodskaya, which is one stop south of the circle line.  As you exit the station via the Masterkova exit, cross the road and continue walking northwards back towards the city centre.  After a few hundred yards, you will see the main entrance on your left hand side.  It is almost impossible to see anything more than the floodlights from here as the stadium is built into the hillside.

How to get a ticket for the Eduard Streltsov Stadion
FC Moscow are not the best supported team in Moscow – in fact they are actually the lowest average supported team of the six that play in the capital, averaging just over 6,000 per game.

Tickets for most matches go on sale around 4 days before a match from the ticket windows at the entrance to the ground in Masterkova.  For nearly all games (the derby versus Torpedo normally attracts over 10,000) just walk up any time before kick off to get your ticket, which should cost you no more than 500 Roubles (£10).

Around the Eduard Streltsov Stadion
The stadium is located in the middle of a quite upmarket residential area in the south east of Moscow.  Close to the metro station are a number of bars that open up outside seating areas on the day of the game.

FC Saturn – Central Park – Capacity:        16,500 All Seater

About Central Park
Central Park, Ramenskoye, Moscow Region
The Central Park Stadium was built in 2002, replacing the old Saturn stadium that stood on the same site.  The stadium is very smart, with four almost identical single tier stands with the 16,500 seats offering the spectators unobstructed views of the action.

The club have a hardcore support of around 8,000 spectators, although due to its location close to the city, and five other teams based within an hours drive then crowds of 13,000 plus are not uncommon.

Who Plays There? – FC Saturn
http://www.saturn-fc.ru
Moscow is now such a huge city that FC Saturn are now considered a capital team despite playing their games in the province of Ramenskoye which is around 35 minutes drive out of Moscow.  The team have now been in the top flight since 1997, and like the FC Moscow team they are owned by the Moscow Regional Government.  The club were originally formed in the 1940’s by a group of workers in one of Russia’s Steel manufacturers.  Until 1988 the club were run on a collective basis, but the progression of the club meant that a step up to Professional status was required.

The club were rewarded with promotion to the Premier League in the late 1990’s where they have been ever since.  Their highest position has been 6th, which they achieved in 2002.  Currently the team are well placed to beat their best over 6th pace with a few weeks to go in the season.

How to get to the Central Park Stadium
The Saturn Central Park is located in the suburb of Ramenskoye that is around 45km south east of Moscow, not far from Domodedovo International Airport.  The easiest way to reach the stadium by public transport is to travel to Kazanski Vogzal by train that is around an hour by train from central Moscow.

For a detailed view on who plays where in Moscow then go to Footiemap.com to access their excellent Moscow football page.

How to get a ticket for Central Park Stadium
With an average attendance of just over half of the seats, then getting a ticket on the day of the game is not a problem.  Even when one of the big three from the city centre (CSKA, Spartak and Dinamo) come to visit, tickets don’t sell out.  A seat in one of the side stands will cost less than 200 Roubles (£4.50).

Getting Around
By far the easiest way to get around Moscow is to use the metro system.  The Metro system is safe, efficient, reliable, cheap and beautiful – it’s not often in the world that all of these adjectives apply to a public transport system – especially for those of us used to using the London Underground on a daily basis.  Trains run every 2 minutes from around 5.30am until 1am daily.  The metro system is incredibly safe as well.  Tickets can be bought from the automated machines at the stations as well as the ticket windows.  All of them have basic ticket prices in English – a 10-journey ticket costs 120 Roubles (making each journey less than 25p!).

Nearest Airport Sheremetyevo (SVO)
Telephone:              +7 933 6666
Website:                  http://www.sheremetyevo-airport.ru

Sheremetyevo was the original Moscow airport and hub for Aeroflot, who fly here three times a day from London Heathrow.  The second terminal now used as the international arrivals and departure point for most airlines was opened for the 1980 Olympic games.  The airport serves almost 12 million passengers annually and chaos reigns on most days.  In December 2008 an express rail link is due to open, linking the city centre to the two terminals in less than 30 minutes.  Until then the easiest route to the city is to take the express line from Savyolovsky Railway station to Lobnaya metro and then catch a bus.  Alternatively you can do what the locals do and use the Marshrutkas (mini bus taxis) that run from the terminals to the metro station at Rechnoi Vokzal at the end of the Green Line 2.  If you must get a taxi be prepared to pay upwards of $80 for an hour journey.

Domodedovo International Airport (DME)
Telephone:              +7 933 6666
Website:                  http://www.domodedovo.ru

Located 22 miles south of the centre of the city, and linked directly to Paveletsky Rail Terminal in the city centre by the Aeroexpress, Domodedovo is gaining in popularity and importance each year.  Since 2003, the airport has also been home to British Airways andEmirates.

The train station is located at the far end of the terminal – trains run every 30 minutes and a ticket costs 125 roubles each way – make sure you keep your paper ticket as you will need it to get through the barriers at each end.

Thanks to http://www.colours-of-football.com for allowing us to use their graphics.

FOOTBALL IN ST PETERSBURG

Stadium Petrrovsky – 22,300 All Seater

About the Stadium Petrovsky
Enjoying one of the most unique locations in Europe, the Petrovsky has been home to Zenit since its opening in 1925.  Originally it was built as a 40,000 athletics stadium on the Petrograd side of the Malaya Neva River in the centre of Saint Petersburg.  It is linked to the centre of the city by a bridge.

The stadium was one of the largest in the Soviet empire before the 1980 Summer Olympics, and was considered as the main stadium before funding was found for the Luzhniki in Moscow.  In the early 1990’s the stadium was redesigned for the 1994 Goodwill Games, including the conversion of the stadium into all all seater arena.  The current stadium is very simple – an open oval shaped stadium which is completely uncovered and three different coloured seats (red, orange and yellow).  Views are quite good but during the months of October and November the stadium is not the most hospitable place to watch football as the temperature can drop to -10degrees or worse.

There are plans to build a new stadium on the island which will hold over 60,000 and be very similar in design to the Emirates Stadium.  Whilst no definite date has been set for commencement of the project, it has been announced it will open before the start of 2010.


Who plays there? – Zenit St Petersburg
The stadium is home to one of Russia’s most consistent teams in the past few seasons – Zenit St Petersburg.  The club can also lay claim to be the richest in Russian football thanks to the continued sponsorship of Gazprom, one of Russia’s largest and most successful gas companies.

They were originally formed in 1925 as a team from the local metal works team (Metallurgical LMZ).  It took then until 1944 to win their first honour when they won the USSR Cup.  They won the Soviet Championship in 1984 before going through a period of inactivity.  However, after returning to the top division in 1996 the club have been very much at home at the top end of the Russian leagues.  In 1999 they won the Russian cup again, commencing a period of success for the club that took in further cup success in 2002 and 2003.  In between they finished runners up in the Russian league before winning the title again in 2007, holding off a spirited challenge from the Moscow trio of CKSA, Lokomotiv and Spartak.

They have had some success in Europe as well, reaching the quarter finals in 2006.  This season they will hope to go just as far after being drawn in a group with Everton, AZ Alkmaar, Larissa and Nurnberg.  Next season they also can look forward to a crack at the Champions League as they will go straight into the final qualifying round as Russian champions.  The stadium occasionally hosts the national team, the last occasion being in 2005 during the qualifying competition for the 2006 World Cup.

How to get there
The Stadium is quite easily walk able from the city centre.  However, there is a metro stop – Sportivnaya located opposite the complex.  If you decide to walk then head north across the river on the Dvortsoviy Most, just north of the Hermitage Place.  Then carry on past the Pushkin House before crossing the river again over Birzhevoyt Bridge and the stadium will be straight ahead.  Sportivnaya metro stop is just three stops north on line 4 from Dostoyevskaya.

Getting a ticket
Zenit are one of the best supported teams in Russia and average just over 20,000 which means that on most occasions the stadium is around 75% full.  Tickets can be purchased from the ticket booths on the city side of the stadium right up until kick off, or from a number of ticket agencies in the city centre including the Iceberg Chain, Artis Theater Agency and Titanic.

Ticket prices are so cheap that you can actually pick up a season ticket for less than £40.  For most games you can purchase a decent seat for around 500 roubles (£8).  Avoid seats behind the goal as the athletics track can cause sight line issues.  As all seats are uncovered remember to bring a raincoat (and a blanket!) with you.

Getting Around
Whilst you will see plenty of trams and buses running around the centre of Saint Petersburg, they are old, crowded and very prone to breaking down.  Whilst not as pleasing on the eye as is Moscow counterpart, the metro is the best bet in travelling around the city.  It has four lines which cover most corners and single tickets are 10 roubles.

Nearest Airport – Pulkovo 2 Airport (LED)
Telephone:              +7 381 104 3444
Website:                  http://www.eng.pulkovo.ru

The second busiest airport in Russia currently handles nearly 5 million passengers a year and is a model for all that was wrong about Communist Russia.  The chaos starts some 10 miles south of the city and although it has been recently upgraded, still suffers from poor design, confusing signage and no real facilities for travellers.

To reach the city centre take bus 13 or K3 to Moskovskaya metro station which run every fifteen minutes and costs 15 roubles.  A taxi would cost over $50 to the city centre, although the Marshrutka minibuses run to the city centre and should set you back no more than 500 roubles.  Currently British Airways fly here from London Heathrow twice daily, supplementing the daily flight from London Gatwick from Rossiya.

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