Holding Midfield: Case Study: Rubin Kazan 2-1 Zenit St Petersburg 21/7/2013

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Apr 6, 2011
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While many other European clubs are being nicely eased back into the football season with pre-season opportunities to spread their brand in far-flung corners of the globe, Russian clubs have had to begin theirs in the sweltering heat to make way for the gruelling winter break. Both clubs got off to low-key starts – Zenit beating Krasnodar 2-1 and Rubin drawing 1-1 with Kuban Krasnodar – and lined up in formations roughly resembling 4-4-2s. Kurben Berdyev’s team was a much simpler set-up, with Yann M’Vila permanently station in front of the defence, Bibras Natkho acting as a link, and Vladislav Kulik and Gokdeniz Karadeniz supporting the high up strikers, and the latter sometimes coming into the middle on his right foot to make space for Cristian Ansaldi to overlap in more extended passing moves. The roles of Zenit weren’t quite so clear cut. Aleksandr Bukharov was the main frontman with Vladimir Bystrov wide right supporting him, but Viktor Faizulin was playing in some kind of floating role that meant he frequently dropped deep into midfield or pushed up very high next to Bukharov. As it was never really clear where he was meant to be, he was largely unsuccessful, unable [...]

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