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Zenit Enters Winter Break in Third Place

The tumultuous halfseason saw sensational signings, in-team rivalry and rifts between players and management.

Published: December 12, 2012 (Issue # 1739)


FC Zenit went on mid-season winter break after Mondays home league game against FC Anzhi Makhachkala, which capped a tumultuous half-season that saw sensational signings, in-team rivalry, rifts between players and management and a crisis in results that was only partly rectified in recent performances.

Mondays cagey encounter pitted last years Russian champions against a new title contender the high-spending, star-studded Dagestani club featuring ex-Barcelona legend Samuel Etoo, in a battle for second place in the Russian Premier League, which was ultimately won by the latter. The 1-1 draw left Zenit in third place, just behind Anzhi in second, with Moscows CSKA top of the table.

The match was played in an empty Petrovsky stadium, following a Russian Football Association decision to punish the St. Petersburg club with two games behind closed doors for an incident in which a firecracker thrown from Zenits fan sector injured FC Dinamo Moscow goalkeeper Anton Shunin in an away game last month. Last weeks game against CSKA Moscow was also played without fans, making Zenit the first team in Russian history to play two straight games without support. The club lost 20 million rubles ($666,000) in lost ticket revenue, according to sports daily Sovietsky Sport.

The punishment drew a sharp reaction from Zenit management, which expressed discontent over the organization of the Russian Premier League and voiced suggestions for the formation of a new CIS football league in which Zenit would participate instead of the current Russian league.

The idea sparked widespread public discussion about the tenability of such a move, and received vocal support from a number of top clubs in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, including CSKA Moscow, Anzhi, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Dynamo Kiev.

Mondays game was the last in the Russian Premier League until March 9, and broke the historical record for being the first Premier League match to be played so late in the year in Russian and Soviet history, with temperatures of minus 8 degrees Celsius and a pitch more reminiscent of an ice hockey rink than the pristine turf of a football field.

Last week also marked Zenits last game in the UEFA Champions League this season, as the team was knocked out of the competition after finishing in third place in the group stage, unable to repeat last years feat of reaching the knockout stages. However, the 1-0 away victory against AC Milan ensured participation in Europes secondary cup competition in the spring the Europa League.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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