After three scoreless ties in some of last week's hottest match-ups, the RPL's 24th matchweek started off as a blank slate between Dynamo and CSKA in this year's 3rd Moscow derby. Though a somewhat disappointing result for both sides, especially Dynamo, who are in a 4-way race to finish in the top 4, the match had its own unique flavor. A packed Arena Khimki watched on as leaders CSKA stormed the pitch at the start and end of the first half. With Vagner Love suspended and Doumbia out of the line-up, goal-scoring opportunities were on the shoulders of Ahmed Musa. The Nigerian forward played out a few combinations with Tosic and Cauna, but only one attempt posed any danger to the net. The absence of the Army Men's top strikers seemed like an opportunity for the Dynamo to grab a much-needed 3 points. Petrescu's side had another advantage as well - the return of Kevin Kuranyi and Aleksandr Kokorin from injury offered a different dynamic in the line of attack. Jakob Jantscher fed balls to the veteran forward, culminating in the Dynamo's best attempt. Though somewhat less active and not in his best form, Kokorin provided some vital passes, getting the ball to the subbed-in Davydov in the second half. Petrescu's side had some effective counters, and keeping that in mind, CSKA's Slutsky thought "it was important to preserve the balance between attacking and defending" in order to get past the opposition.
|Luke Wilkshire stops Ahmed Musa's attack. Photo: championat.com|
Yet neither team's strikers were sharp enough to score, and sloppy passes were a recurring pattern on the pitch, especially for the Dynamo. Petrescu's side didn't make as much use of set pieces either and neglected giving Christian Noboa the chance to deliver them. CSKA gave away possession much too easily for the Premier League's top team and may have ended the myth that a team can still be productive with few options up front. The absence of Love and Doumbia in the attack was akin to Manchester United playing without Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie - there was no finishing touch, no added aggression on the ball that could make the difference between a shot on goal and a wide attempt that earns a corner at best. The game can best be described as "passive-aggressive", with bursts of action at the edge of the 18-yard box and occasional challenges, some of which went unnoticed.
The draw is disappointing for a derby that leaves one wanting more. Nevertheless, the fact remains: CSKA have been unable to score against Dynamo since March of last year, and haven't won against the blue-and-whites since September 2009. Dan Petrescu was not at all upset. "Judging by the chances [we created] in the game, we were closer to a win and probably deserved it," said the Romanian expert. "We played against the best defense in the championship." Dynamo's Alan Gatagov, who scored the only goal in yesterday's game against the CSKA youth, reinforced the manager's timeless philosophy. "Every game is like a final," he said. "We should have no regrets, and everyone just needs to keep moving forward."
Both the Army Men and the blue-and-whites will have to gird their loins for the quarter-finals of the Russian Cup in five days' time. Although the Cup gives the Army Men a shot at winning the double, Slutsky has expressed a greater concern over the upcoming fixture in the championship. CSKA play Spartak in yet another Moscow derby on April 21st. The Dynamo have a trickier feat ahead, taking on a slipping but motivated Anzhi in both tournaments.
Russian Premier League - 24th Matchweek
Friday, April 12, 2013, 12:00PM ET
Dynamo Moscow vs CSKA Moscow - 0:0 (0:0)
Venue: Arena Khimki
Referee: Aleksei Nikolaev
Shots (on target): 6 (0) : 7 (3)
Possession (%): 51:49
Yellow cards: 0:0
Red cards: 0:0
Shots (on target): 12 (1) : 10 (4)
Possession (%): 51:49
Yellow cards: 2:1
Red cards: 0:0