sports blog by andy shenk

Krylia Sovetov Samara Season Preview

In Russian Football on July 11, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Posted at Russian Football News, my thoughts on Krylia Sovetov’s upcoming Russian Premier League campaign. Gadzhi Gadzhiev’s club just escaped relegation last season – can they avoid the relegation playoffs for the first time in three years? Click here or at the end of this excerpt to read the entire article.

INTRO: At the end of last season, Krylia Sovetov had the pleasure of contesting a two-leg playoff tie against Spartak Nalchik of the Football National League (the FNL is Russia’s second tier). The Samarans, who have never dropped out of the top flight since the fall of the Soviet Union, secured a berth in the 2013/2014 Premier League with 2-0 and 5-2 wins.

With just a six-week offseason, Krylia haven’t had much time to work on the transfer market. So far, a pair of Volga players have arrived, Ruslan Adzhindzhal and Gia Grigalava, while forwards Shamil Lakhiyalov and Igor Portnyagin have departed.

Much of the club’s hope lies in head coach Gadzhi Gadzhiev, who returned to Samara over the winter and has had time to install his own methods. Krylia certainly cannot compete with the money at the top of the league, but it has a proud history and committed fans, who hope Gadzhiev can at least pull the club well clear of the relegation zone.

GREATEST STRENGTH: Luis Caballero, Sergei Kornilenko and Ilya Maksimov up front. 23-year-old Paraguyan international Caballero could be on the way out – Lazio are interested and Samara have already turned down one bid – but if he stays Krylia may have one of the best attacking corps in the bottom half of the Premier League. Maksimov, a midfielder, bagged eight goals in 22 appearances last year, while Caballero had eight in 27 and Kornilenko chipped in three. There’s a chance that another Paraguayan striker, Pablo Zeballos, back from loan in Ecuador, could also contribute. In the end, they’re not world-beaters or even Premier League standouts, but, under Gadzhiev, Samara scored 13 goals in 11 spring matches last season, compared to 18 in 19 matches the autumn before. More of the same could help pull Krylia to safety in the top 12.

GREATEST WEAKNESS: Depth. Samara has some talent in Maksimov and Caballero, as well as young Russian defender Ibragim Tsallagov, who impressed at Euro 2013 in Israel. And, for a club limited financially, Belarusian keeper Sergey Veremko isn’t bad. But there isn’t anyone waiting in the wings to step in for them. Plus, the foreigner limit now stipulates that starters Veremko, Kornilenko and Aleksandr Amisulashvili can’t be counted as Russians, since they have played for other national teams. If one or more Russian regulars go down to injury, Gadzhiev will be forced to make some difficult lineup decisions.

Continue reading at Russian Football News.

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