by Aleks V | @aleksvee
|August 2014: The captains stand by for the coin toss. Photo: Konstantin Rybin|
While Dynamo's only domestic silverware since the collapse of the Soviet Union is the 1995 Russian Cup, Spartak were consistently successful at the dawn of post-Soviet football. The Romantsev era saw nine league titles, six of them consecutive, along with two Cup wins and a 1997-98 UEFA Cup semi-final appearance. Their streak began to peter out after Romantsev's exit, however. The club had seven managers in nine seasons, and while they did finish runners-up on five occasions, it's been almost 14 years since their last league title, and almost 12 since they last lifted the Russian Cup.
Dynamo, on the other hand, have not won a championship since 1976. The beginning of their title drought shifted the spotlight to their namesakes in Kiev, whose rivalry with Spartak attained a higher popularity in the 1970's. Spartak and Dynamo Moscow's form in recent years, however, has brought back potential for a resurgence of such games as the nostalgic among us have longed for. In the 2012/13 season, Spartak marked one of their biggest victories over Dynamo by winning four goals to nil. That same season, Dan Petrescu led the blue-and-whites to a 5:1 derby win, a score that they hadn't had against Spartak for 64 years.
Dynamo have yet to beat Spartak since that game. The start of the 2014/15 season marked the 200th match between Spartak and Dynamo, a 2:1 win for the red-and-whites away at Arena Khimki.
For the second season, Dynamo's unbeaten streak was cut short at 18 games as they went down 3:1 to Napoli in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16. Spartak saw their own unbeaten run come to an end - after seven home games without a loss, Yakin's men lost 3:1 to Krasnodar on the 8th of March.
Dynamo go into Sunday's game with the spectre of a European play-off round, while Spartak, free from the burden of other competitions, will be looking to rediscover their home field advantage. A six-point gap separates 7th place Spartak from 3rd place Dynamo. At this point in the season, every victory can have a monumental impact. Spartak's patience with managers is always hanging by a thread, and Dynamo are long overdue for a top three finish. What awaits us this time in the biggest Moscow derby?
Spartak Moscow vs Dynamo Moscow - Fast Facts:
200 games played (72-69-59)
2014/15 RPL - Week 19
Spartak Moscow vs Dynamo Moscow
13:30 MSK (6:30am ET)
Referee: Aleksei Nikolaev
Suspensions: Kim Kallstrom (Spartak)
* Referee Aleksei Nikolaev has officiated three Spartak-Dynamo derbies (2 draws, 1 Spartak win) in which he gave out 17 yellow cards. In each game, he sent off a player after two bookings (2 Spartak, 1 Dynamo).