Unfortunately, neither side have anything at stake. Zenit can’t move away from its current fifth place in the league, while SKA are hopelessly stuck in last place in the table.
SKA are thus playing their final game in the Premier League for now as they’ll return to the Football National League next season.
The club from the Far East never really left its mark on the Premier League. SKA have only collected a meagre 13 points all season, which means a defeat Sunday will make them the worst relegated team in recent years.
SKA’s big strength this season has been their home advantage. Playing near the border to North Korea, all visitors will have to spend an entire day travelling to the game. Ten of SKA’s 13 points have come at home.
This advantage was most noticeable at the beginning of the season. Back then the players were filled with confidence and they were exploiting the momentum they gained in the promotion season. This is far gone now though.
SKA have lost nine home games in a row, and they haven’t won a game since October. In their last 15 games, SKA have collected just one point, and it has been obvious for quite some time now, that the players just want to finish the season and forget about the many defeats during the summer vacation. They have even played ten games in a row without scoring.
SKA have also been through a long season. They started the season with Aleksey Poddubsky on the side line as head coach. However, after starting the season in poor form, including defeats in the first four games, he was replaced by Rinat Bilyaletdinov. The former Rubin Kazan head coach only lasted four games though, before he was sacked. This gave the opportunity to the current head coach, Sergey Perednya.
Perednya couldn’t save the club from relegation though, as the 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Moscow on April 22nd was the final nail in the coffin and secured the relegation.
Despite the awful results, SKA are not an easy team to beat. Most of their defeats are quite narrow, and they rarely lose big. Five of their last eight defeats have been with just one goal, and they are defensively sound.
It is not that SKA have a lot of stars in the squad, but there is one name that stands out: Maksim Kannunikov. He joined the club this winter and is the only offensive player with a bit of X Factor.
Kannunikov has a past at Zenit, but he got his big breakthrough at Rubin Kazan, which earned him a spot in the Russian squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The striker hasn’t been able to save SKA though, and it is likely that he leaves the club after the season to stay in the Premier League.A huge thanks to Toke and all the guys at russianfootballnews for all the previews this season. Be sure to give them a follow!