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UCL last 16 statistical preview

Five Aside

Ronaldo extends all-time UCL scoring mark

Five Aside

UCL last 16 statistical preview

Five Aside

Zenit fans' fiery 'welcome' gives Fenerbahce a taste of their own medicine

Hundreds of Zenit St.Petersburg fans lined the streets leading to the Grazprom Arena to welcome the team bus ahead of their Europa League match with Fenerbahce.

Zenit St Petersburg were granted a fearsome, fiery welcome before their Europa League tie against Fenerbahce on Thursday evening as droves of supporters created some truly spectacular scenes outside the stadium.

Hundreds of supporters lined the streets outside the Saint-Petersburg Stadium armed with burning red flares to create an imposing, fiery escort for the team bus on its arrival.

The Russian club's English-language Twitter account came close to quoting a famous banner once unfurled by Fenerbahce...

Russia's four World Cup players to watch: Golovin, Zobnin, Kuzyaev, Miranchuk

World Cup hosts Russia are approaching the tournament in the wake of some truly shambolic preparations.

Fans are pessimistic, and there is a fear that Stanislav Cherchesov's side will join South Africa and become the second World Cup hosts to fail to qualify from their group. Not everything is bleak though. While defence is their most problematic area, Cherchesov has numerous rising midfielders at his disposal.

Here are four youngsters who could save Russia this summer.

1. Aleksandr Golovin, CSKA...

What went wrong at Zenit this season? Konstantin Sarsania's death hits club hard

Roberto Mancini was unable to secure Champions League football.
Roberto Mancini was unable to secure Champions League football.

For the third season in a row the richest club in Russia, Zenit St Petersburg, won't take part in the Champions League. Once again they failed to qualify after a 1-0 defeat to champions Lokomotiv Moscow at the weekend left them trailing in fifth place -- five points off third with one game to go.

It is an enormous surprise in the country as Zenit were considered clear favourites to claim the title after hiring Roberto Mancini and making heavy investments in the summer.

This was supposed to be Zenit's...

Lokomotiv, CSKA and Zenit lead Russia's challenge in Europa League

Russian clubs are usually expected to experience difficulties in Europe in February after the long winter break, but this season the script has been totally different. All four representatives won their respective fixtures in the return leg of the Europa League round of 32.

For Spartak Moscow, beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 away wasn't enough, as they lost 3-1 in the first leg and went out 4-3 on aggregate, but Lokomotiv Moscow, CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg all advanced.

The last Russian triumph...

 By Chris Wright

Russian farmer builds stadium out of straw to mock $720m World Cup venue

A farmer in Krasnoye, Russia built a football stadium entirely out of straw
Russian farmer Roman Ponomaryov built a stadium made completely from straw.

A Russian farmer has built an entire football stadium out of straw to mock the spiralling cost of the new 64,000-seat arena in St Petersburg that will be used to host the 2018 World Cup.

The straw version, built by farmer Roman Ponomaryov in a field outside the town of Stavropol cost around $675 (£500) to complete, whereas the Zenit Arena quickly burned through a budget of $720 million (£552m).

However, what Ponomaryov's version lacks in clean, sweeping lines and modernist architecture,...

St. Petersburg might be ready for World Cup, but the pitch is not

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Ahead of the Confederations Cup final on Sunday, the pitch remains the most troublesome issue of St. Petersburg Arena, and it is likely to pose a significant problem heading into the World Cup preparations.

Cristiano Ronaldo famously complained about the surface following the game against New Zealand at the group stage. The Portuguese captain claimed: "It was a difficult pitch, where the grass was somewhat too long, and it was impossible to play better than we did."

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