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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 Monday’s 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.

Monday’s cagey encounter pitted last year’s Russian champions against a new title contender — the high-spending, star-studded Dagestani club featuring ex-Barcelona legend Samuel Eto’o, 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 Moscow’s 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 Zenit’s fan sector injured FC Dinamo Moscow goalkeeper Anton Shunin in an away game last month. Last week’s 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.

Monday’s 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 Zenit’s 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 year’s feat of reaching the knockout stages. However, the 1-0 away victory against AC Milan ensured participation in Europe’s secondary cup competition in the spring — the Europa League.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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