The amazing season of FK Rostov

    01 Apr 2016 | Premier League | Opinion
    The amazing season of FK Rostov

    In a season for the underdog, FK Rostov are cooking up a storm in the Russian Premier League. The team hail from the Russian port city of Rostov-on-Don. With forty-one points Rostov are in second place and only two points below leaders CSKA Moscow. They beat Moscow 2-0 at the Olimp - 2 Stadium earlier this month, cementing their title credentials. Their position is surprising considering the club have been fending off bankruptcy for several years and have had difficulty paying their player's wages on time.

    In recent years they have been a mid-table side after being relegated from the top flight in 2007 and bouncing straight back up the following year. In 2014 Rostov won the Russian Cup and earned a spot in Europe for the first time since 2000. They failed to make it past the qualification stages. To win the title or even to just qualify for Europe again would be considered a remarkable achievement for the side from Rostov Oblast.

    Manager Kurban Berdyev is a key reason for Rostov's success. After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Berdyev has turned the team around by playing a system that suits the team well. The Turkmenistani coach is the ideal man to bring Rostov success. At his previous club FC Rubin Kazan, he took the team into the Premier League for the first time in 2002, then steered them to an unexpected title win in 2008, repeating the feat in 2009.

    Berdyev has brought some of his old Kazan players with him to Rostov, such as Spanish defender Cesar Navas who has been an important figure in their backline. He has also focused on getting the side organised and working hard. While they are not playing beautiful, free-flowing football, they are solid defensively and hard to beat. Rostov have ten clean sheets in twenty-one league games so far and have conceded the fewest goals. Viktor Goncharenko, assistant manager of league leaders CSKA Moscow, sings Berdyev's praises saying what he has done at FK Rostov has been "fantastic work".

    Comparisons are being drawn between the FK Rostov and English Premier League leaders Leicester City. Both sides are underdogs, exceeding all expectations and chasing a league title. Rostov Forward Serdar Azmoun suggests "If Leicester can" win the league, Rostov can "do it" too. The coach is being more cautious about his team's chances stating they are thinking of "one game at a time". His team need more goals having scored only 26 - fewer than any team in the top half of the division. Despite this, Rostov have picked up important wins. Last October they won 2-0 away at third placed rivals Lokomotiv Moskva.

    Rostov still have a lot to do if they are to finish champions. Unlike Leicester City, they don't have world-class players or financial resources to draw upon. They will have to topple CSKA Moscow who are experienced at closing out title races - they have finished top the previous two seasons. Rostov have to be considered strong-contenders. They have the best defence in the league and their manager has previously proven he can win with underdogs. Whatever happens, this season has been a great success for the club. The final run-in will be fascinating to observe.

    Predictions for Premier League

    Home team - Away team Tip
    flag_10 Ru1
    FK TambovLokomotiv Moscow
    22/11/2019 17:30
    2
    flag_10 Ru1
    FK OrenburgAkhmat Groznyi
    23/11/2019 09:30
    1
    flag_10 Ru1
    Rubin KazanZenit
    23/11/2019 12:00
    2
    flag_10 Ru1
    Dynamo MoscowFK Rostov
    23/11/2019 14:30
    2

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