With Spartak Moskva winning their first Russian Premier League crown in 16 years, UEFA.com charts the capital club's road to glory under Italian coach Massimo Carrera.
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How they won it
Spartak revealed their intent with a 4-0 first-day success against Arsenal Tula – but it proved their only Premier-Liga match under Dmitri Alenichev before the former midfielder was dismissed following his team's early UEFA Europa League exit. Massimo Carrera took over and the 53-year-old Italian immediately oversaw five wins in six games, building a five-point lead over Zenit at the winter break. With Aleksandr Samedov, Luiz Adriano and Giorgi Jikia brought in to bolster the cause, Spartak posted key wins against Zenit and CSKA to leave themselves firmly on the brink of glory by the end of April – and were confirmed as champions when Zenit lost 1-0 at home to Terek Grozny on Sunday.
Key number: 90+
Spartak showed fighting spirit like nobody else. They scored four goals in second-half stoppage time, and two of those strikes – from Denis Glushakov and Quincy Promes – brought respective home victories against Amkar Perm and Orenburg. Spartak also compiled the league's best home record, dropping points in just one fixture – September's 1-0 reversal against Ufa.
Spartak's success owed much to the toils of traditional heavyweights CSKA and Zenit, neither of whom shone this term. Zenit beat Spartak 4-2 in St Petersburg and looked solid in their UEFA Europa League group campaign, yet they committed too many unforced errors on the domestic scene. Meanwhile, title holders CSKA changed coach mid-season and haemorrhaged too many points in the head-to-heads with their rivals, losing both derbies against Spartak for the first time since 1999.
Spartak fell at the last-32 hurdle – the round in which they entered – going down 1-0 away to SKA-Khabarovsk as their 14-year wait for the trophy continued. In their absence, capital rivals Lokomotiv Moskva ultimately showed them the way, overcoming Ural 2-0 in the Sochi final on 2 May.
Room for improvement
If Spartak want to make a decent impression in the UEFA Champions League, they will need to strenthen their defensive line. They have conceded 24 goals so far – mid-table form. Carrera has plenty of top-level defenders, yet they have struggled for consistency, and even Russian international Ilya Kutepov – invaluable at centre-back for much of the campaign – was benched after April's 3-0 defeat in Rostov. Such off-days in the UEFA Champions League would be unthinkable.
Biggest win: 4-0 Arsenal Tula
Biggest loss: 4-0 Krylya Sovetov
Top scorer: Quincy Promes (11)