Thursday, July 11, 2013

2013-14 Season Preview Part 1 - The Title Challengers

So with the RPL season kicking off this weekend, I thought I'd go ahead and give a brief overview of each squad, what they've achieved in the offseason and where I think they'll finish this season. First up is the title challengers.

CSKA Moscow

Transfers In:

Georgi Milanov
Steven Zuber

Transfers Out:

Uros Cosic
Artur Nigmatullin
Petr Ten (loan)

CSKA have not done much to strengthen over the summer, with Leonid Slutsky obviously content with most areas of his squad. However, he has brought in Georgi Milanov and Steven Zuber to fill out the midfield depth chart in preparation for the departure of Keisuke Honda, who is expected to leave for Milan in the immediate future. For me, they haven't done enough to cover for the increasing age of their central defence and will see problems as Sergei Ignashevich's age finally begins to catch up with him.
Last Season - 1st
Prediction - 2nd

Zenit St. Petersburg

Transfers In:

Andrei Arshavin
Yuri Lodygin
Ivan Solovyov
Anatoliy Tymoschuk

Transfers Out:

Bruno Alves
Igor Cheminava
Igor Denisov
Mikhail Kerzhakov
Sergei Semak

Zenit have seen a large decrease in quality throughout the spine of their squad over the offseason. The departure of Igor Denisov to a direct rival will greatly harm the team's chances of challenging for the title, despite the return of Andrei Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoschuk to the club. The centre of midfield in particular has seen a depth problem arise and I don't really think that they'll get going through the middle of the season, so I predict them to finish 4th.
Last Season - 2nd
Prediction - 4th

Anzhi Makhachkala

Transfers In:

Igor Denisov
Aleksei Ionov
Mikhail Kerzhakov
Aleksandr Kokorin
Christopher Samba

Transfers Out:

Kamil Agalarov
Nikita Burmistrov (loan)
Evgenni Pomazan (loan)
Serder Serderov (loan)

Anzhi have greatly strengthened the centre of their midfield at the cost of one of their closest rivals, Zenit, and have also improved their defence with the return of Christopher Samba. While defence may still be an issue due to weakness at fullback, Anzhi's attack should more than overcome any defensive frailties and for that reason, I expect them to finally take the title.
Last Season - 3rd
Prediction - 1st

Spartak Moscow

Transfers In:

Tino Costa
Denis Glushakov
Jose Manuel Jurado

Transfers Out:

Demy de Zeeuw
Igor Gorbatenko
Zhano Ananidze (loan)
Artem Dzyuba (loan)
Nikolai Fadeev (loan)
Dmitri Kayumov (loan)

Spartak have had a huge offseason, greatly strengthening the centre of the pitch by replacing Demy de Zeeuw and Ognen Vukjevic with Denis Glushakov and Tino Costa, as well as the return of Jose Manuel Jurado. A hopeful return to fitness of Sergei Parshivlyuk and Romulo could catapult Spartak to the title, but that may be too optimistic, so I'll predict them to finish in 3rd, close behind CSKA.
Last Season - 4th
Prediction - 3rd

Next up is the preview of the Europa League hopefuls - Kuban, Rubin, Dinamo and Lokomotiv.

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