Unravelling the enigma of football in the post-Soviet republics
Zenit St Petersburg won the Premier League, Welliton scored loads and most people outside of Tatarstan found watching Rubin Kazan rather dull. That’s the season in a nutshell.
Here’s what else happened over in Russia this year (and Never Mind the Bolsheviks won’t mention a certain quadrennial football tournament once, honest).
The you-can’t-blame-the-Jabulani-for-that-goal goal
During the Worl... summer, the Jabulani was getting blamed for every bizarre goal, but Spartak Nalchik goalie Otto Fredrikson can’t really use the much-maligned ball as an excuse here.
He probably felt a bit of a wally after conceding this goal against Amkar Perm.
Gift of the year
Shock! Horror! Not all journos are *rseholes (most are).
The chaps over at Sovetsky Sport are a rather nice bunch and have been known to come bearing gifts on the big European nights in Russia.
Jose Mourinho was given a snazzy trench coat when Inter Milan visited last season (he didn’t wear it at the Luzhniki, the ungrateful sod), but it looks like they were stumped when it came to finding something for Carlo Ancelotti.
That, or they couldn’t find an eyebrow trimmer in GUM.
A Sovetsky Sport reporter apprehended the Italian after his press conference and presented him with a rather gaudy looking samovar that bamboozled the Chelsea gaffer.
Unless Carlo’s particular about how his hot water is dispensed, a fiver says one of his relatives is going to be pretty disappointed on December 25th.
The Joey Barton sponsored award for good behaviour
Youssef Rabeh is known for his, erm, 'uncompromising' style of play on the pitch, and the Moroccan centre-back wasn't exactly a saint off it during his time at Levski Sofia before joining Anzhi Makhachkala; but hey-ho, a fresh start in Russia and all that...
He joined up with his new teammates in Turkey, but after just one half of a preseason friendly for newly-promoted side, Rabeh went AWOL from their training camp.
He disappeared off the face of the earth for a while, before phoning a Bulgarian newspaper and informing them he’d quit football.
Rabeh eventually turned up in his homeland, announcing he was joining a Moroccan club, leaving a messy three-way transfer saga in his wake.
The Youtube villain of the year
Thing is, right, Alan Gagatov’s not bad at football, but the first time most fans outside of Russia heard of the lad was when he fluffed his lines from three yards for Lokomotiv Moskva against Sibir Novosibirsk.
He also managed this in the same game, but Gagatov scored a corker for Russia’s under-21s a couple of days later.
Russia’s strongest man
Oleksandr Aliev has been known to score from his free-kicks, so it’s not a bad idea to have some kind of a wall in place, which Lokomotiv Moskva’s opponents Amkar Perm did on match day 11.
Unfortunately for them, Tomislav Dujmovic had done a super job of ensuring it was nowhere near the flight path of the ball by the time the hammer-footed Ukrainian had let fly.
The silly so-and-so’s prize
It’s rare you get two awful celebrations in the same match.
Maybe there’s nothing to do in Chechnya, or perhaps there’s some dance craze in the Caucasus this blog missed, because three of Terek Grozny’s South American contingent performed two rather silly routines against Saturn.
After MaurÌcio made a hash of the first, the Brazilian fared a little better with the second that followed HÈctor Bracamonte’s goal.
Russia’s number one mascot
The finest mascot ever? Never Mind the Bolsheviks thinks so. Meet Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast’s Bumblebee...
Best half-time entertainment
It’s Ural, again. Fans over in Yekaterinburg really seem to have a jolly good day out at the football, don’t they?
This brass band gave supporters a real treat during the break against Khimki.
Worst. Decision. Ever.
He fell m’lud!
Amkar Perm were livid after Lokomotiv Moskva were awarded a penalty against them. Rightly so, too.
That was a bad decision. Almost as bad as the RFU deciding to switch to a ìwinter leagueî format
Most bizarre moment of 2010
This goal in the Nizhny Novgorod derby has caused a bit of controversy down in the First Division.
Take a look for yourself (hint: keep an eye on the movement of the defender on the line as the initial shot comes in).
Travellers of the year
Sibir played some nice stuff this season and if there’s one thing a game involving them had, it was goals.
There were 92 of them in the Sibir’s 30 league games; unfortunately for Igor Kriushenko, 58 of them went in at the wrong end.
It’s their travel woes that interest NMTB though.
Sibir took a trip on a commercial airline via Moscow for their fixture with Rostov earlier in the year and their kit went missing en route, but somehow managed a win; they also had to share Saturn’s charter flight from the capital back to Novosibirsk after returning late from Cyprus.
Champions: Zenit St PetersburgCup winners: Zenit St PetersburgTop scorer: Welliton, Spartak Moskva (19)Champions League: Zenit St Petersburg, CSKA Moskva, Rubin KazanEuropa League: Spartak Moskva, Lokomotiv MoskvaRelegated: Alania Vladikavkaz, Sibir NovosibirskPromoted: Kuban Krasnodar, Volga Nizhny Novgorod
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