Clasico FC Dynamo Moscow

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Spartak Moscow vs. Dynamo Moscow
Sunday, November 25, 2012, 13:30 MSK/4:30 AM EST
Luzhniki Stadium

If you Google "Russian Clasico", the first thing that pops up is a video claiming the Russian Clasico is CSKA vs. Spartak Moscow. You also get photos of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola, and Rafa Benitez, so something must be wrong with this picture. What the world's most famous search engine - as well as most people - are unaware of is that the most historic Russian derby does indeed involve Spartak Moscow, and a different team from the same Russian city, a team whose motto is "power in motion". A total of 163 games have been played between Spartak and Dynamo Moscow, as opposed to the 151 played between Spartak and CSKA. But hints of the Dynamo-Spartak rivalry began much earlier than that. Dynamo's very first season in 1923 saw a spring quarterfinal in the Moscow league against the now-defunct FC Presnya Moscow, a club that served as the basis for the founding of Spartak. Interestingly, one of the players on the FC Presnya roster at the time was Nikolai Starostin, later the founder as well as a player and manager of Spartak. Dynamo lost 2-3, conceding the last goal after a controversial penalty call from referee Konstantin Kvashnin, who would go on to become Dynamo's first manager. As if that wasn't enough irony, Kvashnin started his playing career at Spartak at the time of Dynamo's founding; he would switch clubs only five years later.
Dynamo Moscow loses 3:0 to Spartak in the final of the 1950 Soviet Cup. Credit: Spartakfanat
The first ever game between Dynamo and Spartak in the Soviet Top League was played on Saturday, July 11, 1936 and ended in a 1:0 win by the Blue-and-Whites. The Soviet Top League, which was one of the strongest leagues in the world throughout its existence, started off with, and saw through much of its history, a back-and-forth rivalry between the teams, Dynamo Moscow winning the very first season in the spring and Spartak taking third place behind Dynamo Kiev. Spartak reclaimed the championship in the fall, but lost out to Dynamo again the following year.

As with any derby, there are sociopolitical factors involved that have changed over time. Some of the political controversies are mentioned in Starostin's Football Through the Years, but seem to be the author's opinion more so than events rooted in fact. Hence, unlike La Liga's El Clasico, politics play a much lesser role, and the emphasis in the derby is on the rivalry itself. Perhaps the Russian Clasico is underrated as it has fluctuated in its influence over the years; the post-Soviet era has seen a greater emphasis on Spartak v. CSKA, and even Spartak v. Dynamo Kiev. Alas, it was a dark and stormy night in early August as Dynamo conceded 4 goals to the Reds, also known as the Meat, in what would be former manager Sergei Silkin's last match with the team. The match proved a solemn truth - sometimes, a humiliating defeat is the only way to put an end to the worst era in a club's history.
Dynamo wins 2:0 against Spartak in 2011.

Dynamo has met great difficulties in the modern era, and the Clasico has been no exception. The 2012/2013 RPL season saw one of Dynamo's worst losses in the modern era with a 4:0 defeat to the Reds, a game that solidified itself as Spartak's 4th largest win in 76 years of the derby's history. Dynamo's last win over their rivals was on June 22, 2011, a 2:0 triumph with goals by veterans Igor Semshov and Andriy Voronin, both of who were part of Dynamo's ever-successful Fab Five. Semshov, a talented midfielder who played for Russia's National Team as well as the Olympic Team, has 5 goals and one assist this season in all competitions, while Voronin is currently on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga until June 2013.

Meanwhile, Spartak has seen a more consistent record. The Reds finished last season in 2nd place, and unlike Dynamo, their record of silverware extends well into the modern era. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Spartak have won the Championship 9 times, finishing as runners-up in the last several years. Beside that are 3 Russian Cup wins and a bouquet of semi-final and quarter-final accomplishments (the team reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League two seasons ago). Dynamo's 1995 Russian Cup, the sole award of the Blue-and-Whites in the post-Soviet era, simply pales in comparison.

As Spartak continues to hold a prominent presence in the league, Dynamo's challenge remains - making the top 5 by the end of the season. Yet this season poses an interesting challenge to both teams as clubs like Kuban and Terek are just two points away from fourth place Rubin. Of course, the Reds have only a 10-point gap between leaders CSKA, as opposed to Dynamo's 21. But if the beginning of this season is any indication, we're sure to see plenty of surprises along the way. From Terek taking up the top spot to CSKA's two-time defeat to Dynamo, Russian football in the 2012/13 season has been topsy-turvy. What team, if any, will be minding the gap, and just what does the Oldest Russian Derby hold in store for the Thanksgiving weekend?

Previous Derbies:

Spartak vs. Dynamo: 0:2 (2011 season)

Dynamo vs. Spartak - By the Numbers:

Wins by Spartak: 57
Wins by Dynamo: 44
Draws: 62

Biggest wins:
Spartak - 7:1 (1991 USSR Championship)
Dynamo - 5:0 (1946 USSR Championship)

Trophy Wins:
Soviet Top League (USSR Championship) - Spartak: 12, Dynamo: 11.
Russian Championship - Spartak: 9, Dynamo: 0.
Soviet Cup - Spartak: 10, Dynamo: 6.
Russian Cup - Spartak: 3, Dynamo: 1.
Soviet SuperCup - Spartak: 0, Dynamo: 1.
USSR Federation Cup - Spartak: 1, Dynamo: 0.

Total Number of Cups -
Spartak: 35
Dynamo: 19

21 - Number of players who played for both teams
4 - Number of managers with spells at both clubs.
2 - Number of players who played for one club, but managed the other. Both played for Dynamo and later managed Spartak.

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