Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rubin Kazan v Spartak Moscow October 2011

Rubin Kazan 3 Spartak Moscow 0.

16th October 2011 23,650. Russian Premier.

Red buses, pubs and the Premier League on TV - it could be London but it is really the Republic of Tatarstan.

Kazan is 700km east from Moscow, an hour or so by plane, but its just up the road in this massive country.
And many fans from Moscow made the journey, lots seemingly for the first time.
Like me they spent time photographing the very impressive Kremlin with its mosques, towers and walls.

The Spartak red scarves thronged the main pedestrianised street with its mixture of part-demolished and newer buildings.

A fifteen minute stroll up the road was the Central stadium where the 4,000 or so away fans filled a large part of the left hand end of the ground.
They produced plenty of noise but their team failed to deliver much in return.

After a fairly cagey first half of few chances Rubin came out with more purpose in the second period and scored early through the excellent Ecuadorean Christian Noboa.
Ryazantsev added another soon after and Spartak got into more trouble when Nigerian striker Emenike was given a second yellow.

The Moscow side never looked like getting back into it and a deflected shot cum cross by Bibras Natcho in added time sealed their fate, much to the locals delight.

Rubin were in good form based on a solid defence and strong midfield but whether they will do as well against the likes of Tottenham in the Champions League only time will tell.

For Spartak the likes of Aiden McGeady and the Brazilian Welliton couldn’t produce much to endanger the home goal.

The atmosphere was enhanced by flares and smoke from both sets of ultras and in the city centre the fans seemed to get along OK, watched by the local police.

Afterwards I settled for a kebab served, in an overstaffed restaurant, by girls who would not have been out of place on a catwalk.

Most of the Spartak fans drank their beer and hung around McDonalds.
Some were still enjoying Grolsch in the airport prior to the 9.55 flight back to the capital.

As you would expect in Russia at this time of year the weather was not warm, especially when facing the wind, but Kazan is definitely worth a visit.

Back In Moscow, amongst the huddled masses, I travelled the metro to Arbat, visited Red Square and the impressive National Historical Museum (everything from mention of Bronze Age communes through relics from Napoleon’s 1812 visit to pictures of Brezhnev and Stalin)

Maybe Russia itself is becoming more inviting (once you have a visa and can afford the hotel prices) for visitors as the younger generation takes over more of the customer service - more inviting but not necessarily better or more informed.
However the security stays in evidence though perhaps more relaxed than previously.

Quite what it’ll be like in (say) 2018 is open to question with still few concessions to signage in English or indeed not that many people speaking any language other than Russian.

But the fascination remains with this visitor, of being in a vast, powerful and hedonistic country.

More pictures at

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