Monday, May 27, 2013

2012-13 Russian Premier League Season Review

CSKA Moscow30204649252464
Zenit St. Petersburg30188453252862
Anzhi Makhachkala30158745341153
Spartak Moskcow30156951391251
Kuban Krasnodar30149748282051
Rubin Kazan301551039271250
Dynamo Moscow30146104134748
Terek Grozny30146103840-248
Lokomotiv Moscow30127113936343
FK Krasnodar30126124539642
Amkar Perm3078153451-1729
FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod3078152846-1829
FK Rostov3078153041-1129
Krylia Sovetov Samara3077163152-2128
Mordovia Saransk3055203057-2720
Alania Vladikavkaz3047192653-2719
This season saw a number of interesting occurrences for multiple teams, particularly those who finished the year in mid-table or the Europa League places. Firstly, Dynamo had a woeful start, losing their first 5 matches and taking only 3 points from 8 games but managed to win 10 of their next 12 to claw themselves back into Europa League contention, although they eventually missed out by 2 points. Meanwhile, Terek had an incredible start for a club of their stature, winning 6 games of their first 8 and holding a top 4 position for most of that time, before dropping away in the latter part of the season. Zenit can also count themselves unlucky due to injuries, as both first choice fullbacks, Aleksandr Anyukov and Domenico Criscito, missed most of the season, while Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Igor Denisov were involved in race controversies and dropped to the reserves for a short time. CSKA managed to take their fourth Russian Premier League title with a game to spare, despite missing key players in Keisuke Honda and Seydou Doumbia, as well as rotation striker Tomas Necid, for most of the season. All 3 made their returns in the closing weeks of the season, although Necid's only appearance of the campaign came off the bench in a 3-0 loss to Rostov on the final weekend.

Team of the Season:

GK: Igor Akinfeev - CSKA Moscow
Consistently the most competent goalkeeper in Eastern Europe, Akinfeev was one of the main reasons that CSKA conceded the joint least goals this season. Despite playing behind an aging central defence, Akinfeev was solid in almost all of his 29 appearances and the single match that he missed was the shock 3-0 loss to Rostov on the final day.
DR: Mario Fernandes - CSKA Moscow
Although he suffered some unfortunate errors in his first few matches, Fernandes adapted well to the more physical nature of the Russian Premier League, eventually becoming a key tool in providing width for CSKA's attack.
DC: Vedran Corluka - Lokomotiv Moscow
The ex-Tottenham player initially appeared to falter in his new central position on the pitch, but like Mario Fernandes, he adapted well. His lack of pace was less obvious than it had been when he played at right back and he was able to use his intelligence to consistently position himself in the ideal location to break up attacks.
football formations DC: Salvatore Bocchetti - Rubin Kazan/Spartak Moscow
Impressed early in the season as the more adventurous of Rubin's central defensive pairing and earned himself a transfer to Moscow, where he immediately slotted into the first team at the cost of Juan Insuarralde. The partnership he formed with Marek Suchy became increasingly formidable in the tail end of the season.
DL: Yuri Zhirkov - Anzhi Makhachkala
Although he had to perform with being largely the only player on Anzhi's left flank for large parts of the season, Zhirkov performed admirably in his wingback role as his side marched on to a 3rd place finish. At times, he seemed like the only Anzhi player on the pitch actually interested in playing and always put in a good shift.
MC: Bibras Natkho - Rubin Kazan
The versatile box-to-box midfielder was key to Rubin's defensive performances and their 6th place finish. Natkho combined defensive competence with creativity on the ball to manage man of the match performances in a number of crucial matches for Rubin.
MC: Christian Noboa - Dynamo Moscow
Noboa, like Natkho, played a key box-to-box role for his side, and was the centrepiece of the side throughout their strong run during the middle of the season which salvaged a 7th place finish.
AMR: Ahmed Musa - CSKA Moscow
Due to injuries, Musa was forced from his preferred right wing into becoming CSKA's first choice striker, notching up 11 goals and 4 assists in 28 matches. He developed a reputation for being in the right place at the right time to finish deflections and parries.
AMC: Vagner Love - CSKA Moscow
Love was excellent in his return from Flamengo as he played a typically deeper role than he had in his first spell in Moscow. He scored 5 goals and provided 7 assists in 9 appearances after returning to CSKA in January.
AML: Wanderson - Krasnodar
The joint top scorer of the league gained substantially less attention than his part-time teammate and other top scorer, but Wanderson was excellent in each of his 22 appearances, helping Krasnodar with 13 goals and 2 assists.
SC: Yura Movsisyan - Krasnodar/Spartak Moscow
Movsisyan was excellent in the first half of the season, scoring 9 goals in 13 games for Krasnodar before earning a transfer to Spartak Moscow, where he scored a hat-trick on debut against Terek Grozny. His form cooled off in the tail end of the season, only finding the back of the net once more in his last six matches, but there were bright spots in his performances nonetheless.

Player of the Season: Vagner Love - CSKA Moscow
As mentioned above, he was excellent upon returning to CSKA in the winter break. Statistically he was excellent, but he also revitalised an injured and tired CSKA attack that had struggled for goals in the latter weeks of the first half of the season.

Young Player of the Season: Zhano Ananidze - Spartak Moscow
Only missing out on the Team of the Season due to the excellent form of Wanderson and Vagner Love, both of whom are much more experienced than 20-year-old Ananidze. Despite often being played out of position on the left, the Georgian international was a constant threat with his dribbling and passing and eventually tallied 2 goals and 2 assists in just 6 starts and 8 substitute appearances.

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