SATURDAY 4th April 2015

Arena Khimki (7,750)

Amongst Russian football’s many inner-city derbies, the clash between Dynamo and Lokomotiv could never be regarded as one of the biggest.  Since establishment in 1923, Dynamo’s historical traditional rival has always been Spartak Moscow. The matches against Spartak during the communist era, in particular, were generally seen as being the most important clashes in the Soviet Union.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, both CSKA Moscow and Zenit Saint Petersburg have emerged as the top clubs in Russian football with other challengers from near and far emerging – Rubin Kazan and Anzi being only two such clubs. Accordingly, the rivalry between Dynamo and its Moscow neighbours of Lokomotiv has assumed less significance.

With the historic Dynamo ground in Petrovsky Park being closed for demolition (soon to replaced by the VTB Arena) games against the likes of Lokomotiv are now played at the Arena Khimki a small stadium located some 19km outside Moscow in the Moscow Oblast.

Neat compact and holding up to 18,636 spectators the ground was opened in 2008 becoming the home stadium of FC Khimki.  But the stadium has become known solely for its association with CSKA Moscow and Dynamo.  CSKA also chose to use the arena since a move from the Luzkniki meaning football has become an almost weekly event at Khimki.

Thankfully all tastes can be catered for within the stadium spectator wise.  Banked ends inside behind the goal serve as host to the clubs fans while those who choose not to stand behind the goal have a choice of 6 VIP quadrants and 14 individual sky-boxes.  The natural pitch meanwhile mixes the highest standards of technology making it suitable for regular Russian Premier League football despite the harsh weather in Moscow over the winter months.

Despite the disappearance of its iconic open stadium Dynamo Moscow still rightly belong amongst the country’s all-time football elite.  Along with CSKA and Zenit, they are one of only three Russian teams to reach a UEFA competition final but of course are more known for its famous British football tour of 1945.

The links with Britain do though go back further than 1945 as it was an Englishman Harry Charnock who would establish the club that later would become Dynamo Moscow.  This historical context also has the answer to the teams blue and white kit which is emblazoned with the famous cursive ‘D’.  Mr Charnock was said to have been from Blackburn the colours of the hugely successful Blackburn Rovers.

If Dynamo earned its place on the podium of Russian football back in Soviet times, then Lokomotiv have been more of a product of the modern era.  With a new build stadium as a home long before CSKA or Spartak the club won only two titles in Soviet times, their best finish in the Championship being a second in 1959. But the club won the first ever Soviet Cup in 1936, and this success was repeated in 1957.

Like Dynamo the club is known for the traditional lettered emblem on the club shirt.  In the case of Lokomotiv, it is a big red Cyrillic “Л” (L) that is the dominant figure in Lokomotiv’s logo.

This clash ended in a draw with a Manuel Fernandes penalty giving Lokomotiv a deserved 2-2 draw despite being down to ten men for large parts of the 2nd half.  Led by the former international goalkeeper Stanislav Cherchesov, the Dynamo side has taken on an all-star feel with the likes of Igor Denisov, Christopher Samba, Zhirkov, Kokorin and the Frenchman Valbuena.

Against that Lokomotiv had the experienced Roman Pavlyuchenko to call upon and probably, in all honesty, the away side deserved a draw on a bitterly cold afternoon.

FT: 2-2

Dynamo: Gubolov, Hubocan, Rotenburg, Buttner, Samba, Vainqueur, Igor Denisov, Ionov, Zhirkov, Valbuena

Lokomotiv: Marinato, Denisov, Corluka, Sheshukov, Logashov, Boussoufa, Fernandes, Shishkin, Samedov, Kasaev, Skuletic