Tournament high level

For the leading Russian clubs, the RPL Winter Cup has already become a pleasant tradition.

Previously, it was held twice in Qatar under the name Match Premier Cup at about the same time - in 2019 and 2020.

In 2021, the tournament did not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the same year, it will be hosted by the UAE for the first time.

In the current realities, the value of the competition has further increased.

It is extremely difficult for domestic teams to find strong rivals at the winter training camp.

If earlier they could organize sparring matches with strong European teams, now even representatives of Bulgaria refuse them.

For example, Krasnodar and Spartak lost friendly matches against Levski.

But the level of the RPL Winter Cup promises to be high, despite the fact that the Russian giants will only play among themselves.

The red-and-whites take the second line in the standings of the national championship, immediately after the "Zenith", and "Rostov" - the third.

Sochi is the current silver medalist of the championship, and Krasnodar has only once fallen out of the top 5 over the past eight seasons and has regularly played in European competition.

In addition, the participants will approach the tournament in acceptable conditions, because there is a month left before the resumption of the RPL draw, and three weeks until the first quarterfinal matches of the Russian Cup, in which only Sochi will not play from the four presented.

Perhaps the main intrigue of the competition is whether Spartak will be able to take first place again.

In the two previous cases, the red-white confidently won the trophy.

In six matches, they won five victories and suffered only one defeat in the penalty shootout alone.

Now they have a chance to repeat their success in the UAE.

Important tasks of Abaskal

The Red and Whites will not only try to please the fans, but also prove that they have not become weaker compared to the first part of the season and are still deservedly the second team in the country.

No less important tasks will face the coaching staff, because in January two defenders joined the squad at once - right Tomas Tavares and center Alexis Duarte.

They replaced the departed Mikha Mevlya and Nikolai Rasskazov.

The Paraguayan has already made his debut, having spent the entire second half of the meeting with Botev on the field, and the Portuguese has just arrived at the team's location.

In the UAE, Guillermo Abascal will try to integrate them into the squad and achieve teamwork with new partners, although it will not be easy in three matches.

Plus, Victor Moses, who has almost recovered from injury, is expected to return to action.

But one of the leaders of Muscovites, Quincy Promes, on the contrary, will not help the team.

He works on an individual program in Moscow and is likely to join partners only at the third training camp in Turkey.

In his absence, the coaches resorted to a 4-3-3 formation in the confrontations with AGMK and Botev.

Perhaps it will also be used at the RPL Winter Cup.

And Anton Zinkovsky will try to replace the Dutchman, who has a great opportunity to prove himself to a mentor.

Coaching premieres of Sochi and Krasnodar

An important event of the RPL Winter Cup will be two coaching premieres.

In particular, the return of Kurban Berdyev, who twice won gold with Rubin, and won silver with Rostov, will take place.

In the summer of 2019, he left Kazan after the team finished only 11th in the championship.

Then the overseas stage of the specialist's career began.

However, it is difficult to call it successful.

He was fired from the Kazakh Kairat during the 2022 season due to poor results.

In addition, an experienced mentor was reproached for overly cautious football.

"Tractor" also did not achieve success.

Berdyev and his assistants left the team in seventh position in the Iranian championship standings.

But in Russia, Kurban Bekievich was immediately entrusted with the current silver medalist.

Plus, there are enough players in the squad who played under his leadership back in Rubin and Rostov.

With one of them, Christian Noboa, they even managed to extend the contract for a season with the possibility of an extension for one more.

This news, for sure, pleased the RPL coach, the oldest at the moment, because the Ecuadorian remains the key performer of the southerners at the age of 37.

For example, in the current RPL draw, he scored ten goals.

At the same time, Berdyev promised to gradually rejuvenate the roster and trust the youth more.

Another team from the South of Russia, Krasnodar, also got a new coach.

Vladimir Ivich came to replace Alexander Storozhuk.

He became only the third coach in the history of the club from far abroad, although Daniel Farke, who has not played a single official match, can not be taken into account.

It will be interesting to watch the work of a Serb, because he achieved success wherever he worked.

With PAOK he took the Greek Cup, and with Maccabi from Tel Aviv he twice became the champion of Israel.

Even Watford, who played under his leadership in the Championship, showed good results, and the specialist was dismissed only because of a conflict with his wards.

It is important that Krasnodar will not change its style with the arrival of Ivic.

Vladimir in all teams relied on high pressure and fast attacks, and he will try to instill a similar game in the southerners.

At the same time, he will have to build two recruits into the attacking line at once - right winger Moses David Cobnan and midfielder Kady Borges.

Both spent 45 minutes on the field in the only friendly match at the first training camp with Bunyodkor and did not score goals.

Fans in the UAE will be able to enjoy the game of Eduard Spertsyan.

The team's top scorer this season, despite the interest of a number of foreign clubs, will remain in Russia.

The fundamental opposition of Karpin

Rostov, like Spartak, is faced with the task of proving that the successes in the first part of the season were not accidental, and that being in the top three of the RPL is well-deserved.

Moreover, in previous years, under Valery Karpin, the yellow-blues often unsuccessfully spent the spring.

However, the mentor himself is not going to stop there.

On the eve of the RPL Winter Cup, he called the first place the goal of the team.

The southerners are quite capable of showing a decent result, at least in the UAE, because in January they looked good in test games - first they defeated Bunyodkor, and then turned out to be stronger than the current champion of Malaysia, Johor Darul Takzima.

In these meetings, they scored six unanswered goals, half of which were chalked up by Yegor Golenkov.

At the same time, Rostov manages without newcomers so far in the winter, if you do not take those who returned from the lease.

According to the helmsman, he would like to strengthen the squad, but there are no clear candidates.

It is now much more important for the team to keep all the players and not lose any of the leaders.

By the way, already in the first match of the tournament, football fans are waiting for Karpin's confrontation with his former Spartak team.

At the head of the yellow-blues, the coach succeeds in meeting with the Muscovites: in the last five games, four victories have been won with one defeat.

At the same time, Abascal admitted before a new confrontation that as a child he watched the matches of a domestic specialist in Spain, and he gave him a lot of positive emotions, speaking for Real Sociedad.

Bold experiments of the organizers

The organizers are trying to awaken additional interest in the RPL Winter Cup with the help of innovations in the regulations.

For example, major changes have been made to refereeing.

In particular, each team during the meeting will have the opportunity to take two requests to view controversial episodes, one per half.

We are talking about moments with goals, penalties, direct removals and erroneous demonstration of a card to one or another player.

By the way, not everyone liked this innovation, for example, Karpin sharply criticized him.

Moreover, the arbitrators in hot pursuit will have to explain their decision live.

Their communication with the media will not be limited to this.

Within 15 minutes after the final whistle, the referees are required to take part in a flash interview.

No less interesting is the introduction of a gaming challenge competition, which will take place on February 4 and 5, after the end of the first round.

Within its framework, players will have to take penalties on targets, pass an obstacle course, etc.

Moreover, the winning team will receive a serious fee - 3 million rubles.

For comparison, the winner of the trophy will earn 7 million rubles.