After an 11-year absence from the Russian Premier League, Khimki are back in the top flight and ready to take on the big boys of the division. First up for Khimki are CSKA Moscow, last season’s fourth place finishers. CSKA Moscow qualified for the Europa League group stage for the 2020-21 season missing out on Champions League football by just two points.
Manager Viktor Goncharenko will take CSKA Moscow to the Khimki Arena on Saturday afternoon for the first match of the Russian Premier League season. Goncharenko will hope his side can perform better this season having posted a 14W-8D-8L record in 2018-19. The club scored just 43 goals and despite being the fourth most in the division, it was still 22 fewer than Zenit St. Petersburg.
Khimki achieved promotion to the Russian Premier League courtesy of a second-place finish in the National League last term. While the Russian Premier League restarted after the Covid-19 pause, the National League did not. The league was abandoned in March giving Khimki a very long layoff although they did make it to the Russian Cup Final in July.
The Russian Premier League did not have a long break between the completion of the 2019-20 season and the beginning of the new term. Games finished on July 22nd and CSKA Moscow will hope to keep their form going on Saturday.
By the time the new Russian top-flight season starts on Saturday, it will have been just 17 days between the end of the last term and beginning of new campaign. CSKA Moscow had just a few weeks to rest and regroup for the season while Khimki have been off since March. In the build-up to the campaign, Khimki did defeat Dynamo Moscow 2-0 in a friendly thanks to both goals from Mohamed Konate.
Khimki not only achieved promotion last term but finished runners-up in the Russian Cup. Although the league was abandoned in March, Khimki did still compete in the latter stages of the Russian Cup making it all the way to the final. There, they were beaten 1-0 by Zenit St. Petersburg, who achieved a domestic double.
Goncharenko’s CSKA Moscow team head into the weekend coming off of a nil-nil draw in a friendly versus Rotor Volgograd – who were also promoted from the Russian National League for the new season.
CSKA Moscow announced the signing of Argentine forward Adolfo Gaich. The former San Lorenzo player was linked with a move to Premier League team Leeds United but moved to Russia on a five-year contract. There are high hopes for the 21-year-old at the club after scoring six goals and adding one assist in 13 games in all competitions last term for San Lorenzo.
The Horses also signed midfielder Gocha Gogriciani during the summer break. The 20-year-old may not be in the squad on matchday one, but his impressive play in the Russian Premier League U-20 division last season could see him in the team soon. Gogriciani scored 11 goals and tallied four assists in 21 games.
Striker Mohamed Konate of Khimki goes into the weekend looking to keep his form going after tallying twice against Dynamo Moscow. Konate is in his final season at the club. The 22-year-old will want to have a big season to earn a new deal at Khimki or at another top-level team.
These teams have not played in the Russian Premier League in 11 seasons; however, they have met in friendlies. Between 2012 and 2015, the clubs met four times in exhibition games. CSKA Moscow won three of the four games against Khimki during that time span.
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Three of CSKA Moscow’s last six games in the 2019-20 Russian Premier League ended with under 2.5 goals scored. Why does last season’s final six games matter? There will be merely 17 days between the end of the last season and beginning of the new campaign. Khimki are also coming off of the Russian Cup Final against Zenit St. Petersburg in which they lost 1-0. Their most recent friendly fixture against Dynamo Moscow finished 2-0.
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CSKA Moscow allowed just 29 goals last season which was the joint fourth-fewest. The Horses had a solid defence last term and that should carry over into the new season. CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has long been top shot-stopper in European football. He kept 13 clean sheets in 30 games in 2019-20 conceding the team’s 29 goals. Now 34, Akinfeev has been at CSKA Moscow since 2003 and is still going strong.
Nikola Vlasic to score anytime - BET NOW
Twenty-two-year-old Croatian winger Nikola Vlasic has starred at CSKA Moscow since arriving in 2019 from Everton for $14.13 million. His performance last season has left a large contingent of Everton Supporters to decry the club’s selling of him. Vlasic scored 12 goals and added five assists in 30 games for CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League. He is a dangerman in the final third and will be counted on to get goals for the Horses this season.
Khimki and CSKA Moscow have met 12 times in all competitions over the 15 years. However, their last match was a friendly in 2015. In those 12 meetings, CSKA Moscow posted a 9W-2D-1L record. That one loss to Khimki was in a friendly. History should continue to repeat itself this weekend as the two clubs kick off the brand-new Russian Premier League season with the first game on Saturday.
CSKA Moscow will welcome the division’s new boys by claiming a win and showing them that life is a bit more difficult in the top flight. It should be a low-scoring game as the teams start up just 17 days after CSKA Moscow’s final league match of last term. It could be a slow fixture as the two sides feel each other.
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The match between Khimki and CSKA Moscow will be played at Arena Khimki.
The match between Khimki and CSKA Moscow kicks-off at 14:00 UK time