FC Dynamo Moscow preview

Dynamo Moscow Season Preview

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Dynamo fan banner: "Greatness and honor cannot be bought."

INTRO: From occupying the bottom of the table to nearly finishing 3rd, Dynamo Moscow had one of last season’s biggest comebacks. The introduction of Dan Petrescu as manager led to a series of impressive results, including a whopping 5-1 win over Spartak in the oldest Russian derby and a 14-match unbeaten run. The former ended in the sacking of Unai Emery as Spartak manager. The latter ended in a humiliating 1-0 loss for the Moscovites to the later-relegated Alania. The team disappointed at the end of the season, their scoreless draw against Volga leaving them short of a Europa League spot.
A manager’s first full season with a club is always the true test of his abilities. The number one goal for Petrescu this season: to lead his team to the European qualification zone. Such a goal is easier set than accomplished; players who have spent many seasons representing the blue-and-whites – Kolodin, Kokorin and Semshov – are out of the team. Former Ukraine international Andriy Voronin returned from his season-long loan. The take-over of billionaire Boris Rotenberg as club president signifies not only the end of an era, but the start of a new one.
GREATEST STRENGTH: Dynamo currently prides itself as being a mix of the old and new. Veteran players like Kevin Kuranyi and Andriy Voronin, the golden duo that brought much success to the Moscovites in 2011, are back together again. Players that have always worked well with each other and with the rest of the team can back a much-needed blast from the past. With older players no longer doing international duty, there’s no added worry about potential injuries at World Cup qualifiers or NT friendlies. The Moscovites’ reserves team, which finished 2nd in last season’s youth tournament, provides the other half of the equation, becoming a potential supplier of talent for the senior squad. 18-year-old striker Andrei Panyukov has already made appearances with the First Team, and 20-year-old Pavel Solomatin is Petrescu’s pick for playing in front with a more experienced teammate. Both players are officially part of the senior team. The youngsters are motivated by competing with the older players, and vice versa.
Dan Petrescu has not always kept his cool.
GREATEST WEAKNESS: By far the Moscovites’ weakest link is the goalkeeper. Even with a solid defense, the team will be in trouble if they keep Anton Shunin a regular starter throughout the season (Dynamo conceded 34 goals last season, with Shunin starting for all but a few of the games). 25-year-old Frolov has proven himself time and time again in the youth team and should be given a chance to start. Although he is now listed as a member of the First Team, he has yet to become Petrescu’s number one pick. Veteran keeper Roman Berezovsky is younger than Tottenham’s Brad Friedel and is still warming the bench. His experience can prove to be vital in games against the league’s top clubs. His contributions to the team should most certainly not be overlooked.
Another issue that has come up time and time again is Petrescu’s emotional meter. The manager’s sideline antics seem to have calmed down significantly since his spell at Kuban, but another major refereeing blunder can see Petrescu acting up again. Another match ban and the team could very well see another round of unfortunate fixtures. His mood is the team’s mood – no matter who they’re up against, he has to believe in his players. In the match against Anzhi, Petrescu admitted he did not have high expectations of his team going into the first half, and that attitude was very visible in the Moscovites’ cautious start to the game.
Striker Andriy Voronin.
KEY PLAYERS: Veteran striker Andriy Voronin has shown he is not done at Dynamo just yet. When Voronin returned, he fit into the team like a glove. Scoring a goal and an assist during a pre-season friendly, feeding the ball to his teammates…it was hard to imagine that he had ever been away. Kevin Kuranyi, his partner in crime, is set to return in week four after recovering from his injury. The former German international got out of his goalless streak last season, going right back to scoring his signature headers. Then there’s Christian Noboa in midfield, the Russian Beckham of set piece deliveries. Captain Leandro Fernandez, who may very well be one of the best defenders in the league, continues to show true leadership on the pitch and has always been a key player. The young Andrei Panyukov and Pavel Solomatin will likely rotate with the older strikers; the latter has already shown he has what it takes to play alongside a veteran forward.
TRANSFERS/DEPARTURES REVIEW: Dynamo have made four new signings thus far – Alan Kasaev, Vladimir Dyadyun, George Florescu and Douglas. Dyadyun shone at the Universiade, scoring five goals in five games. He was named the best player in the competition’s football tournament. Kasaev had a great debut, getting a hold of the ball whenever he could. Douglas is going to be one heck of a defender when he’s fit to play. He has had many a successful season with FC Twente, and is already acquainted with teammates Balazs Dzsudzsak and Luke Wilkshire from their Eredivisie days.
So far, all of the departures have been positive: the controversial Aleksandr Kokorin and ex-captain Igor Semshov, both of whom have contributed at different times to instability within the squad, bid farewell to the blue-and-whites. Anzhi are unlikely to have any use for Kokorin, while Dynamo have made a profit from the transfer. Perhaps the only negative departure was midfielder Jakob Jantscher, who returned to Salzburg after his loan ended. The talented winger was a great fit for the team and could have brought his trophy-winning expertise to the Moscovites this season.
Dynamo players celebrate their win over Anzhi.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO FOR THE SEASON: The goalkeeper situation is resolved as Frolov becomes a regular starter, alternating at times with Berezovsky. Club president Boris Rotenberg mirrors his brother’s success at Dynamo’s hockey club by bringing the football club their first trophy in nearly two decades. The season ends with a top 3 finish and qualification to a European tournament. At best, Dynamo are runners-up to CSKA, and qualify for the Champions League for the second time ever (their first was the 2009-10 season).
WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOR THE SEASON: Dynamo disappoints supporters once again by losing a series of vital games, in large part due to Shunin’s goalkeeping mishaps and Petrescu’s performance of “Rage Against the Referees”. The team fails to qualify for the Europa League for a second time in a row, Dan Petrescu is sacked for the second time in his career and the team is once again in a state of utter chaos. The Rotenberg brothers refuse to invest any more money in a failing team. Dynamo is back at square one.
Worst-case scenario (with a silver lining): The Rotenberg brothers bring in their good friend, Metalist Kharkiv manager Myron Markevych, to take over the team.
KEY EARLY SEASON FIXTURE: As much as the win over Anzhi was a key game, the derby against Spartak will prove to be a deciding factor in the team’s approach to the entire season. The oldest rivalry in Russia is akin to any other Clasico and always has a lot at stake. The Reds finished fourth last season with Valery Karpin back as head coach and were only two points shy of Anzhi’s bronze medal spot. They were the only team to grab 6 points from the first two games of the current season. Dynamo are up against a very different Spartak than the struggling side from last fall. Dan Petrescu would do well to not underestimate his rival coach.
SEASON PREDICTION: With a combination of strong signings and familiar faces, Dynamo will finish third and qualify for the Europa League group stage. With the instability of Zenit and Anzhi and a change in the goalkeeping position, however, that spot could very well be 2nd.

Published on Russian Football News.

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