FC Dynamo Moscow FC Spartak Moscow

Moscow Derby Preview: Spartak vs Dynamo

8:30 PMGoalChatter

by Aleks V @aleksvee

Week 19 of the 2014/15 Russian Premier League will feature one of the biggest fixtures of any season - the Moscow derby between Spartak and Dynamo. The oldest derby in Russian football was first played on June 17, 1923. Coincidentally, it was Dynamo Moscow's debut match. The game saw five goals, plenty of action, and a controversial late spot-kick that gave Spartak's predecessor, Krasnaya Presnya, the victory. To top it all off, the referee, Konstantin Kvashnin, would go on to play for and manage both sides! Needless to say, that game set the stage for a rivalry no lesser than the Manchester derby in England or El Derbi madrileno in Spain.

August 2014: The captains stand by for the coin toss. Photo: Konstantin Rybin
Dynamo and Spartak did not just dominate the Soviet Top League for many years, but also played together as one unit in the All-Union Spartakiad and sometimes traveled abroad representing Moscow in international friendlies. As with other rivalries, there were and still are players who leave one team for the other. Although such a move has long been regarded as betrayal, there is less of a stigma these days, since loyalty to one side for a long period of time is a rarity in modern football. Dynamo defender Vladimir Granat, currently on loan at Rostov, will join Spartak at the end of the season. A handful of managers have been at the helm for both sides. Dynamo's current head coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, played in goal for Spartak and managed the red-and-whites in 2007-2008.

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)
Goals: 281-264

2014/15 RPL - Week 19
Spartak Moscow vs Dynamo Moscow
13:30 MSK (6:30am ET)
Otrkitie Arena
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).

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