plus three – Kommersant of St. Petersburg

Zenit, six rounds before the end of the Russian Premier League (RPL), took first place, beating Akhmat 2-0 in Grozny on Saturday. It is true that Dinamo Moscow is only three points behind. Only these two teams are considered title contenders. CSKA lost in the 24th game against Khimki and can only claim a place in the top three, which at the moment does not promise dividends, like the other places, except the first.

Russian clubs are fighting for high positions, without knowing their fate. The key question is whether our teams will be allowed in the European competitions for next season. In March, UEFA banned Russian clubs from participating in international competitions due to events in Ukraine. FIFA excluded the national team of our country from the events under its auspices. Russia has remained a member of the tournament, but it is not known when its teams will be able to compete on an equal footing with others.

Under these circumstances, only the first place matters in the RPL – for history. It is not a fact that the team that wins the championship will be allowed to participate in the Champions League and those in second, third and fourth place will be able to play in the Champions League and Conference League qualifiers. All European competitions start in the second half of the summer. The Russian championship will end at the end of May.

It is also not clear in what form it will take place next season. How many teams will he have? The last two clubs will be relegated from it after the results of the current RPL and those in 13th and 14th place will play transitional matches with the Football National League (FNL) clubs. This is directly related to the question of whether Russian clubs will be returned to Europe.

The RFU Executive Committee, held on March 23, did not support the proposal of the majority of RPL clubs to extend the league from 16 to 18 teams next season. But he did not abandon this initiative either. To maintain the athletic principle. Players should be aware that they are in danger of being relegated from the Premier League as the league continues. This provides intrigue and sharpness of the fight. Which, incidentally, we now see from how events unfold at the bottom of the rankings. There, none of the teams have yet secured themselves from relegation to the FNL. And many can fly there, including those taking places from 9th to 16th. But again, if the current format of RPL continues. In case Russia does not return to Europe, the Premier League can be expanded to 18 clubs. As they say, to fill the diary. There is an idea to hold the RPL Cup between the Premier League teams for the same purpose, a new tournament.

While the fog is in the future, the clubs at the bottom of the RPL are struggling to keep their place under the sun and Zenit and Dynamo are fighting for the title. Its value is not disputed by anyone. Until the last, 24th round, CSKA could still be considered a contender for first place, which started dynamically in the second half of the season, but in the last games the army team tied with Ural 2: 2, lost to Khimki 2: 4 and withdrew from the match.

Dinamo held an exam on Sunday in Nizhny Novgorod, where the coach of the local team is Alexander Kerzakov, former striker of Zenit. The hosts were close to getting points from one of the top, but in the last minutes their defender Kiril Gotsuk cut the ball into his net. And Dynamo overtook the Petersburgers in the standings. If Zenit had stumbled at night in Grozny, now the two teams would go hand in hand. But the blue and whites won thanks to the goals of Yuri Alberto and Alexander Erohin, which passed as a change. Again in front of Dynamo with three points. As football fans joke: “It’s plus three again in St. Petersburg”, meaning not the weather.

It should be noted that this is Zenit’s first victory over Akhmat in Grozny in seven years. Departure for the capital of the Chechen Republic is considered difficult. Everyone says so, however, no one can explain why. “Akhmat”, before this “Terek”, never claimed high positions. As well as places between foreigners. Maybe that’s why. In addition, Zenit continued its unbeaten streak in the Russian championship, which already has 13 matches.

Zenit will then play Ural at home, the match will take place on April 16 and Dinamo will host Ahmat at home. The teams have six rounds left before the RPL ends.

Cyril Legoff

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