No wonder Eto’o is smiling!
While many would treat the Russian Premier League with trepidation, it is actually a very interesting and also competitive league.
The bonkers amounts of money pumped into the Russian game make it entertaining. Zenit St-Petersburg this season bought the starlet Belgium Axel Witsel for a fee believed to be 40 million Euros and the entertaining Brazilian Hulk for 60 million Euros. There is also the fascinating club Anzhi Makhachkala who play in the terrorist torn Dagestan region of Russia who have Samuel Eto’o on their books, who earns 50,000 Pounds a day! They recently signed the young and talented Willian for a large fee and they also have the great Roberto Carlos as their assistant manager. The array of talent on show in the RPL is impressive with players such as Hulk, Axel Witsel, Emenike, Welliton, Bruno Alves, Domenico Criscitio, Keisuke Honda, Lassana Diarra, Lacina Traore and Samuel Eto’o adding glamour and skill.
David Bentley the first and only Englishman to have made the move to Russia, playing for FC Rostov, described the league: “The standard of teams I’ve played has been really good.” This leads on to the next point that the RPL is of a very good standard and is very unpredictable, with massive investment, tactical changes and crazy scandals causing shocks every year. The top two (who qualify for the Champions League) has had 4 different entrants in the past 5 years.
There are many world class managers in the league with Slavan Bilić at Lokomotiv Moscow, Guus Hiddink at Anzhi and also Fabio Capello-the manager of the Russian national team. Bentley confirms the exciting differences in styles “The teams we’ve played have been a mixture of styles. In England, you kind of get a Premier League style of play but in Russia you’re approaching a different set-up every week”. Perhaps it won’t be long for more English players to make the move to Russia with big wages on offer. Bentley describes the west side of Russia as “really European, especially where I am in Rostov. Its 25 degrees and there are nice restaurants and nice big shopping centres.”
There is also really interesting rules in the RPL. One of these is a limit on foreign players fielded in each game, in an attempt to improve the national team, The rule has seen some success, with promising talent such as Alan Dzagoev and Georgi Schennikov being produced from the CSKA Moscow academy and the impressive showing of the national team in Euro 2008.
So the RPL is very exciting with lots of big teams, crazy amounts of money, bundles of talent and surprises every step of the way. There is however a problem, no television companies here in England provide any coverage. Start the campaign now!