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Season review: Russia

Published: Monday 29 November 2010, 14.45CET
A league and cup double, a record 23-match unbeaten run and a naked coach all featured in a Russian season dominated by Luciano Spalletti's FC Zenit St Petersburg.
by Dmitri Rogovitsky
from Moscow
Season review: Russia
Zenit celebrate after winning their first Russian Premier League title since 2007 ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 29 November 2010, 14.45CET

Season review: Russia

A league and cup double, a record 23-match unbeaten run and a naked coach all featured in a Russian season dominated by Luciano Spalletti's FC Zenit St Petersburg.

In the final season that Russia's Premier League programme followed the calendar year, FC Zenit St Petersburg won a domestic double, with the champions for the previous two seasons, FC Rubin Kazan, forced to settle for third place in the top flight.

Champions: FC Zenit St Petersburg
Luciano Spalletti made an instant impact at Zenit, guiding them to the title in his first season having taken over in December 2009. Zenit assumed the ascendancy after nine rounds of fixtures and never looked back. Spalletti's charges secured the title with two matches remaining and duly finished six points clear of second-placed PFC CSKA Moskva.

Cup final: FC Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 FC Sibir Novosibirsk
Zenit clinched only the second Russian Cup in their history thanks to a 60th-minute penalty from Roman Shirokov. Sibir, who ultimately finished bottom of the league, enjoyed the consolation of a place in UEFA Europa League qualifying.

European places*
FC Zenit St Petersburg – UEFA Champions League group stage
PFC CSKA Moskva – UEFA Champions League group stage
FC Rubin Kazan – UEFA Champions League qualifying
FC Spartak Moskva – UEFA Europa League qualifying
FC Lokomotiv Moskva – UEFA Europa League qualifying

*Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Surprise package: FC Spartak Nalchik
Level pegging with Zenit at the summit after eight matches, Spartak only dropped off the pace after a 3-1 defeat by the future champions. They endured a far more testing second half of the season and finished sixth, just shy of European qualification. Coach Yuri Krasnozhan and defender Viktor Vasin, a recent Russia debutant, enhanced their respective reputations, in particular.

Player of the year: Danny (FC Zenit St Petersburg)
The Portugal playmaker was restricted to only eight league appearances in 2009 because of a knee injury, but returned with a bang in 2010. Ten goals and six assists are proof of his unflinching influence on the side.

One to watch: Pavel Yakovlev (FC Spartak Moskva/PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara)
Still only 19, Yakovlev caught the eye with four goals in 2009 but found himself on the fringes at Spartak during his second senior season with the capital club. Loaned to Krylya Sovetov, the Spartak academy product rediscovered his confidence and struck another four top-flight goals.

Leading scorer: Welliton (FC Spartak Moskva) 19

Relegated: FC Alania Vladikavkaz, FC Sibir Novosibirsk

Promoted: FC Kuban Krasnodar, Volga Nizhny Novgorod

Number: 23
Zenit's 23-game unbeaten league run at the start of the season – incorporating 17 wins and six draws – marked a new Russian record. The sequence finally ended with a 1-0 loss to Spartak Moskva on 27 October.

"We saw how our fans showed their joy by standing naked in really cold weather. After the last match I joined them. I will ask them for compensation when I'm at home with a cold."
Spalletti bares all in celebration.

Last updated: 04/01/11 0.52CET

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