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Why is Rostov falling down the Russian Premier League (RPL) ladder?

FC Rostov has been in steady decline.
FC Rostov has been in steady decline.
Amritangshu Bandyopadhyay

FC Rostov enjoyed a glorious run in the Russian first division in the middle of the last decade. The club from Rostov Oblast even managed to even qualify for the Champions League in 2016, after finishing second in the 2015-16 Russian Premier League (RPL) season.

Rostov did relatively well in a couple of seasons after that as well. However, things have not been as rosy as they once did for the club.

Rostov's pursuit of rival club rejects

Rostov's highest finish in the last four seasons in the Russian Premier League has been fifth. Apart from that, the club has finished ninth in two seasons and even finished outside the top 10 once.

This season as well, the trend has remained the same.

One of Rostov's major drawbacks in recent years has been the relentless pursuit of rival-club rejects.

Be it Denis Terentyev from Zenit St. Petersburg or Igor Kalinin from Rubin Kazan, the club has been skewed in their preference to buy this profile of players. Both of these players still happen to form the core of Rostov's defensive line.

➡️ Denis Terentyev moved from Zenit to FC Rostov✍️ Zenit's defender was loaned by FC Ufa last season. Terentyev played for FC Rostov from 2015 to 2017#RPL #Rostov #Terentyev https://t.co/xVhiY8VYke

Following the monetary injection after Champions League participation, Rostov had the opportunity to lure talented players from Eastern Europe. However, their strategy of looking inwards and buying players who are past their prime has hurt their domestic ambitions.

The Valeri Karpin reign

Valeri Karpin is the current Russian national team head-coach.

Following the sacking of Leonid Kuchuk, Karpin took over Rostov. Karpin's reign can be summed up as one of spectacular boisterousness with little room for pragmatism.

The Karpin Project was a failure for Rostov.
The Karpin Project was a failure for Rostov.

As a footballing nation, Russia feels secure playing defensive football with long-ball tactics. Karpin is not an advocate of that. Perhaps it is this quality - his uniqueness - that has landed him the Russian team job.

However, such expansive tactics did not work out too well for Rostov.

The shift from a back-four to a back-three with three players up-top turned out to be too expansive a tactic to be employed in Russia. They conceded almost as many goals as they scored in Karpin's first season in charge, finishing ninth.

A reluctance to change tactics again saw them capitulate the following season when they conceded 50 goals in the 30-match season.

Struggles against lower league teams

Conceding too many goals every game is often associated with bad results against lower-league opponents as well. The same holds for Rostov as well.

Last season, they picked up only fifteen points from the fourteen matches they played against the teams that finished below them. Rostov finished ninth last season.

FC Ural scored four in the first half and won in #RostovUral match (1-4) 🐝#RPL https://t.co/AwytKdWStd

This season, they have already had defeats to Krylya Sovetov, Akhmat Grozny and FC Ural as well. It was the club's first defeat against FC Ural in four years as they lost 4-1 in a home tie.


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Edited by Rohit Mishra

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