Russiahave been unable to make the most of the World Cup momentum, at least in terms of their domestic football quality. Spartak Moscow were expected to make a major impression in the European competitions but they have been gone out of the Champions League in the qualification stages – at the hands of PAOK. Meanwhile, Zenit St Petersburg had to work extremely hard in order to get past Norwegian and Belarusian teams – even in the Europa League. Ufa made a debut in the Europa League but it was cut short by a defeat against Rangers.

The Russian football clubs were expected to spend a substantial sum of money during the window, but it has not been the case. Only a few years ago, Zenit St Petersburg were able to break dance records by bringing in the likes of Hulk for more than €80 million. Now, club owners have been stripped of cash when it comes to football activities and they have tightened their purses. This has also been made complete by the strengthening of foreign currencies and weakening of the ruble. As a result, only a modest transfer activity has been witnessed in the Russian Premier League.

CEO of Russia’s main players’ union, Alexander Zotov, admitted that the league has lost a number of key players in recent times and it may take a substantial influx of funds in order to make the Premier League attractive once again. “We lost a lot of top players in the last years that went to other leagues and countries. I’m not saying it deteriorated, but the level of football is not growing if you take superstar players away. But if they keep the atmosphere among the fans, you can see the games played in full capacity stadiums, the game changes and they drive the energy to the players. Really, it’s another game,” said Zotov.

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