Previewing Akhmat v Zenit in the RPL

The reigning champions travel south to face Akhmat Grozny on Saturday night in the MIR Russian Premier Liga.
Previewing Akhmat v Zenit in the RPL

Sergei Semak’s side comfortably beat Lokomotiv Moscow 5-0 on match day 3. It was a game of two halves for Zenit as scoring didn't begin until the 63rd minute. Matteo Cassierra’s shot in the box was deflected into the path of Wendel who’s first time effort went in. Zenit grabbed their next in the 75th minute as a long ball allowed Malcom to drive into the area. The Brazilian found his fellow countryman Claudinho, who pirouetted on the spot to unleash a shot with his right boot, fooling the 18 year-old goalkeeper, Daniil Khudyakov. Five minutes later, Zenit made it 3-0, with Zelimkhan Bakaev’s through ball finding its way to Ivan Sergeev, who lobbed the goalkeeper. The Moscow side were falling apart, as a Dmitri Barinov foul in the area on Malcom saw the midfielder given his marching orders. Bakaev converted the spot kick. Zenit completed the scoring deep into added time. Wilmar Barrios drilled an effort from range which was parried away, but only as far as Arsen Adamov, who flicked the ball back to Sergeev from the byline, with the Russian striker bagging his brace.

This result put the blue-white-sky blues at the top of the for the first time this season. 

Andrei Talalayev has been the coach of Akhmat since 2020, and led his side to a 7th placed finish last season. Grozny start the game in 8th place, but are a tough side to play at home, which Spartak Moscow had found in the opening weekend, as Akhmat held the red and whites to a 1-1 draw. Talalayev’s side then beat new boys Fakel, before losing 2-1 to Sochi away from home. The coach primarily sets his side out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, however changed his line up for the Sochi defeat, perhaps to match formations. Akhmat signed highly rated forward Gamid Agalarov from Ufa in the summer. The 22-year-old was linked to a host of Russian clubs throughout the transfer window following his 20 goals in the prior season. So far Agalarov has been used sparingly, but scored the winner against Fakel. Vladmir Ilyin has been the starting striker whilst Burkina Faso international Mohamed Konate is also an option in attack.

When Zenit last faced Saturday’s opponents away from home back in April, the reigning champions were storming their way to the title and ran out 2-0 winners, with goals from Yuri Alberto and Aleksandr Erokhin. 

Before the game, Semak highlighted Agalarov as a key threat for Akhmat saying "He scores a lot, we have to pay attention to his individual qualities and skills in the area.

The Zenit boss then talked about Talalayev’s depth in forward players saying “Akhmat have 3 forwards now, and their manager is going to decide who is playing, we’ll be training for any possible scenario."

Akhmat v Zenit takes place this Saturday at 8pm and can be watched worldwide on the RPL YouTube channel.