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Tambov v Zenit preview: Another vital game in the quest for the title

The blue-white-sky-blues will fly away twice this week, with FC Tambov first up on Wednesday evening.
Tambov v Zenit preview: Another vital game in the quest for the title

After grinding out a tough home fixture against Krylia Sovetov on Friday, the lads will now fly away to Nizhny Novgorod to play FC Tambov in search of a fourth win on the bounce in the Russian Premier Liga (third since the resumption).

Zenit continued the charge to the title on Friday night after eventually beating a stubborn Krylia Sovetov 2-1 at home. The club rooted to the foot of the table took the lead in the 44th minute as Glushenkov cushioned in a free header, played to him by ex-Zenit 2 winger Anton Zinkovsky. Despite falling behind, Zenit started the second half much brighter as Krylia looked to sit deep and frustrate in an attempt to go home with the points. However two penalties inside six minutes for Artem Dzyuba (64’ & 70’) ensured the blue-white-sky-blues would overcome the hurdle and take all three points.

Tambov sit just outside the relegation spots (13th) after 24 matchdays played, picking up 25 points thus far. The promoted side have failed to register a single point on the board since the return of football, having suffered a pair of 2-1 defeats against Ufa and Ural, teams they might have hoped to pick up an away point at. This game is however their first "home" match since the break, with Tambov now playing 500 km away from their home town due to ground issues, this game will take place at 45,000 capacity and built for the World Cup, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. However, no fans will be present due to the current coronavirus situation. 

Now permanent manager Sergei Pervushin will be pleased with 28 year-old forward Mikhail Kostyukov who has netted in both the losses and now sits as Tambov’s joint top scorer on six goals for the season. Zenit should also be wary of the 23 year-old attacking midfielder Georgi Melkadze who has also bagged six goals and assisted three whilst on loan at the club from rivals Spartak Moscow. Defensive midfielder Guram Tetrashvili will miss Wednesday’s tie through suspension after being sent off against Ufa. With crucial games coming up against Akhmat Grozny, Arsenal Tula and PFC Sochi, Tambov will find taking any points from Zenit a major boost to their survival chances. 

This Wednesday will be only the third time the two clubs have ever met competitively, with the first game ending 5-0 to the blue-white-sky-blues in the fifth round of the Russian Cup in 2016. Zenit hosted Tambov’s first ever game in the Russian Premier Liga at the Gazprom Arena this season, after the club secured promotion from the FNL. Both sides were fairly quiet in the first half as Tambov held themselves well, however two goals in quick succession after the half time break from Aleksandr Erokhin (46’) and Artem Dzyuba (48’) put Zenit in cruise control. Despite only having two shots all second half, it was substitution Olabiran Blessing Muyiwa (Benito) who brought the game back to 2-1 in the 71st minute to give Tambov a fighting chance before they eventually ran out of steam. 

Fans based within Russia can watch the match against FC Tambov for free on Match TV only this Wednesday. Fans based within Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia can catch the game live on Sportklub 1. For fans outside of those territories the Russian Premier Liga YouTube channel offers a paid subscription solution to access and watch all of the games. Since this game is not selected for English language commentary, you will need the $4.99 tier subscription to access this fixture.