CSKA look to shrug off poor start
Russia's reigning champions CSKA Moscow face a weekend test with Samara, seeking to bounce back from the surprise loss of two points in their premier league curtain-raiser with top flight debutants Ural.
CSKA, who glittered in their pre-season Supercup win against Zenit St Petersburg, looked much less impressive against the Premiership rookies in Yekaterinburg, producing a catalogue of unforced errors in a 2-2 draw.
The Red Army side manager Leonid Slutsky blamed personnel problems and lack of form at the season start for his side's flop in Yekaterinburg.
"We are still not in our best form at the beginning of the season and cannot produce quality football twice a week," Slutsky said.
"We did not recover after Saturday's Supercup clash."
Against Samara, CSKA will still be without their Ivory Coast marksman Seydou Doumbia, Serbian midfielder Zoran Tosic and Brazilian defender Mario Fernandes, who are all injured.
Latvian international Aleksandr Cauna and wing back Kirill Nababkin will also likely miss the match with Samara because of injuries.
Big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala, who finished third last season, will test the validity of their title ambitions in an away match Friday against Dynamo Moscow which kicks off the weekend action.
In the summer Anzhi strengthened their line-up by luring Russian international forward Alexander Kokorin from Dynamo. However, Kokorin will miss the clash with his former club as he is still serving a three-match ban for a red card in last season's encounter.
Anzhi left winger Yury Zhirkov is also uncertain for the match in Moscow along with defenders Andrei Yeshchenko and Arseny Logashov.
Dynamo meanwhile, will also be without some of their first choice players on Friday as their Hungarian midfielder Balasz Dzsudzsak is serving a three-match suspension, while German marksman Kevin Kuranyi is injured.
Meanwhile, last season's runners-up Zenit, who started the season with a hard-fought 2-1 win at FC Krasnodar, will have to pass a tough test on Sunday at two-time Russian champions Rubin Kazan.
Zenit will likely be able to boost their line-up with Brazilian star forward Hulk, who missed the match at Krasnodar because of a late arrival in Saint Petersburg from vacation.
"It was unwise to take Hulk to Krasnodar," Zenit Italian manager Luciano Spalletti said. "He came to Zenit's base after a 21-hour flight and looked a pale shadow of his normal self."
Against Rubin, Zenit will likely be without their Italian winger Domenica Criscito and first choice 'keeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, who are both on the injury list.
Spartak Moscow, who started the quest for their 10th Russian title with a 2-1 win at Samara, have a chance to extend their winning streak against Ural Yekaterinburg.
However, Spartak also have injury problems as their Ukrainian goalie Andrey Dykan, Irish international Aiden McGeady, Czech defender Marek Suchy and Brazilians Romulo and Carioca are all injured.
"We played confidently and were in complete control at Samara," Spartak manager Valery Karpin said. "But we lost concentration in the late stages and allowed the hosts to score meaning it was a nervous finish."
Friday: Dynamo Moscow v Anzhi Makhachkala
Saturday: Terek Grozny v Amkar Perm, Tomsk v Kuban Krasnodar, Volga Nizhny Novgorod v Lokomotiv Moscow
Sunday: Rostov v FC Krasnodar, Rubin Kazan v Zenit St Petersburg, Ural Yekaterinburg v Spartak Moscow
Monday: CSKA Moscow v Samara
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