Where will Zenit become the champion?
Even before the resumption of the RPL season, the Zenit championship was considered to be a practically settled affair. Although the wards of Sergei Semak did not always please the fans with a bright and spectacular game, they regularly won victories. And after a pause, they won three more times, increasing their advantage over their closest competitor to 11 points. Thus, one moment remained unclear: at what exact moment the blue-white-blue ones for the second time in a row guarantee themselves gold medals.
There is a possibility that the victory of St. Petersburg in the championship of Russia will be issued already in the coming weekend. On July 5, Zenit will play against Krasnodar on a visit and, if successful, will be able to count on an early triumph if Lokomotiv loses points a day earlier. There are prerequisites for this, because the railway workers have to face off against Sochi, albeit in their own field.
Everyone knows about the close ties of Petersburgers with Southerners, which confirms the presence of the last nine players who belonged to the blue-white-blue at different times. Surely, they will be sufficiently motivated and will try to help former partners and management.
Will Krasnodar repay its debt to Lokomotiv?
The main intrigue of the finish line of the national championship remains the struggle for second place and the right to qualify directly to the group stage of the Champions League. At first glance, for Krasnodar, whose owner is dreaming of getting into the main European cup tournament in recent years, the cherished goal is more important.
A year ago, the “bulls” were as close as possible to make Sergei Galitsky’s dream come true for the first time, but they lost in the final round of the Champions League selection to Olympiacos. A little earlier, the team also until the last fought for second place in the national championship with Lokomotiv, but lost in personal meetings with the equality of points.
By and large, the same scenario is repeated in the 2019/20 season. With the difference that this time the struggle is much more equal. Opponents are level by lost points, but Muscovites are leading in terms of additional indicators and have already managed to leave a good impression about themselves. It is too early to talk about the form of Krasnodar, because they only once went out onto the field after a pause.
At the same time, it is impossible to bet on the railroad workers unequivocally, because in the end they will have to spend more difficult matches, and each failure can increase tension in the club, whose fans still have not forgiven the leadership for deciding to part with Yuri Semin.
In addition to meeting with Sochi charged to win, Lokomotiv will face a derby with Spartak and CSKA, as well as confrontation with Ural and the extremely uncomfortable Ufa. Vadim Evseev became famous for being able to masterfully “park the bus” in his own penalty box and take points from his favorites. In ten games with representatives of the top 6, his team triumphed three times, tied five times and only twice lost (both times to Krasnodar).
Murad Musaev’s team is mainly awaited by opponents from the bottom of the table. The question is whether the bulls will be able to cope with moral problems that previously prevented them from gaining the upper hand in decisive matches.
Will CSKA compete with Rostov for fourth place?
The end of the losing series in the championship inspired optimism in the fans of the army. Before the match with Spartak, the position of CSKA was assessed as critical, and the chances of staying on the fifth line seemed unlikely. Now it remains to be understood whether this success was only the result of an emotional outburst within the team or whether Viktor Goncharenko and Sergei Ovchinnikov really managed to work on the mistakes.
If the hopes of the fans are not unfounded and the coaching staff managed to find a middle ground between reckless attacking and gray defensive styles, then CSKA can be seriously considered as a competitor to Rostov in the fight for fourth place. True, to get around the wards of Valery Karpin will be very difficult. In this situation, the advantage of the southerners in personal meetings can play a crucial role. They beat the red-blue twice, so they will be higher even if the points are equal.
At first glance, the Muscovites calendar looks simpler: apart from Rubin and Orenburg, which also have to compete against, CSKA are waiting for a game with Tambov and Akhmat. Against this background, “Wings of the Soviets” and “Ufa” seem a little more serious opponents.
But the situation is fundamentally changing under what circumstances applicants for the fourth line will fight with the leaders of the RPL. Karpin's team will hold a match with Zenit in the 30th round, when he will almost certainly lose motivation and will systematically prepare for the new season. Goncharenko’s team will compete with Lokomotiv in the 29th, when he is still unlikely to solve all issues with Krasnodar.
Will Spartak hold sixth place?
Under normal circumstances, the sixth place in the championship of Russia would not be of particular value. But in the light of the possible victory of Zenit in the Cup of the country, it can give its owner a chance to play in the Europa League. At the moment, five teams are claiming this line, and for most of them it remains the only chance of getting into European competitions. This does not apply only to Spartak and the Urals, which retain the chances of winning the second most important internal trophy.
The main favorite in the mini-tournament is Dynamo, even if it doesn’t look so confident as to give it a victory in advance. However, the relatively simple calendar and the fact that they are already bypassing the sixth Spartak on the sixth point speak in favor of the blue and white.
For the wards of Domenico Tedesco, the upcoming three rounds will become decisive, during which they will meet the uncomfortable Tambov, the formidable Lokomotiv and the direct competitor in the person of Sochi. Six points will be a worthy result for the red and white, after which they will be waiting for Akhmat and Rubin.
Initially, Ural was not considered as one of the contenders for sixth place, but the technical victory over Tambov seriously increased their chances. The catch is that in the final segment Dmitry Parfyonov’s team is waiting for Dynamo, Krasnodar and Lokomotiv, as well as the fight for the cup.
Will Orenburg fly out?
There is no clarity as to whether at least one RPL team will leave following the season. At the moment, only Khimki is applying for a promotion in the class, but due to lack of funding, the Moscow Region club cannot yet make a final decision. In this regard, the circle of applicants for relegation is significantly reduced, since only the last, 16th league team needs to seriously worry. The main outsiders include three teams, but the position of one of them causes the most serious concerns among fans.
We are talking about the "Orenburg", which fell victim to the epidemic of coronavirus. After the match with Lokomotiv, six players of the team passed positive tests for COVID-19, after which the team was forced to quarantine and miss two RPL games. She counted two technical defeats and it is possible that already on July 5 a third will be awarded. According to the club, they turned to Rubin with a request to postpone the meeting of the 26th round, but did not receive an official response.
Now the situation of "Orenburg" seems catastrophic. At least for the reason that in the remaining four rounds they have to play exclusively with the teams from the top of the table - CSKA, Rostov, Zenit and Dynamo.
Against the background of the wards of Konstantin Paramonov, the chances of other teams are much higher. “Wings of the Soviets” looked pretty nice under Miodrag Bozovic, and after the arrival of Andrei Talalayev, they immediately took points. Although Tambov lost three times in a row, he regularly scores, and Akhmat scored seven points in three rounds after the restart. It would be extremely difficult for Orenburg to compete with such opponents even if the coronavirus outbreak did not occur.