Russia - Premier League: The most exciting and competitive league in Europe
Russian Premier League: Everything You Need to Know
If you are a fan of football, you might have heard of the Russian Premier League (RPL), one of the top professional leagues in Europe. But how much do you really know about this exciting and competitive league? In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the RPL, from its history and format to its current season and statistics. Whether you are a newcomer or a seasoned follower, you will find something interesting and useful in this article.
The RPL, also written as Russian Premier Liga, is the highest level of football in Russia. It was established in 2001 as the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) and rebranded with its current name in 2018. Before that, from 1992 to 2001, the top level of Russian football was called the Russian Football Championship. The RPL is organized by the Russian Football Union (RFU) and is affiliated with UEFA, the governing body of European football.
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The RPL consists of 16 teams that play each other twice, once at home and once away, in a round-robin format. The season usually runs from July to June, with a winter break from December to March. The team with the most points at the end of the season is crowned as the champion and qualifies for the UEFA Champions League group stage. The runner-up also qualifies for the Champions League, while the third- and fourth-placed teams enter the UEFA Conference League. The bottom two teams are relegated to the Russian First League, while the 13th- and 14th-placed teams play a two-legged playoff against the third- and fourth-placed teams from the First League for survival.
The RPL also has two domestic cup competitions: the Russian Cup and the Russian Super Cup. The Russian Cup is a knockout tournament that involves teams from all levels of Russian football. The winner qualifies for the UEFA Conference League group stage. The Russian Super Cup is a one-off match between the RPL champion and the Russian Cup winner that takes place before the start of each season.
The RPL awards several individual honors to its players and coaches, such as the best player, best goalkeeper, best defender, best midfielder, best forward, best young player, best coach, top scorer, and best referee. The winners are determined by a vote of players, coaches, journalists, and fans.
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History of the RPL
The RPL traces its roots back to the Soviet Top League, which was founded in 1936 and lasted until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Soviet Top League was one of the strongest leagues in Europe, featuring teams from 15 republics of the former USSR. The most successful club in Soviet history was Dynamo Kyiv from Ukraine, which won 13 titles. The most successful Russian club was Spartak Moscow, which won 12 titles.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, each former republic organized its own national championship. In Russia, six teams that played in the Soviet Top League in 1991 (CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Vladikavkaz, and Lokomotiv Moscow) were joined by 14 teams from lower divisions to form a 20-team Russian Top Division in 1992. The first season of the Russian Top Division was won by Spartak Moscow, which started a streak of nine consecutive titles until 2001. The Russian Top Division was reduced to 18 teams in 1993, to 16 teams in 1994, and to 14 teams in 1998. In 2001, the league was reorganized as the Russian Football Premier League (RFPL) and expanded to 16 teams again.
The RFPL saw the emergence of new contenders for the title, such as Lokomotiv Moscow, CSKA Moscow, Rubin Kazan, and Zenit St. Petersburg. The most successful club in the RFPL era was CSKA Moscow, which won six titles between 2003 and 2016. The RFPL also witnessed the rise of Russian football on the European stage, as CSKA Moscow became the first Russian club to win a UEFA competition, the UEFA Cup in 2005, followed by Zenit St. Petersburg in 2008. In 2018, the RFPL changed its name to the Russian Premier Liga (RPL) and introduced a new logo and identity.
The RPL has produced many notable players and coaches who have made their mark in Russian and international football. Some of the most famous names include Valery Karpin, Igor Akinfeev, Andrey Arshavin, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Alan Dzagoev, Igor Denisov, Yuri Zhirkov, Sergei Semak, Viktor Onopko, Oleg Romantsev, Leonid Slutsky, and Stanislav Cherchesov.
The RPL has also been the stage for some of the most memorable moments and records in Russian football history. Some of them are:
The highest attendance for a RPL match was 81,317 for the Moscow derby between Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium on 22 October 2006.
The highest scoring RPL match was a 9-3 win for Zenit St. Petersburg over Dynamo Moscow at the Petrovsky Stadium on 29 May 2010.
The longest unbeaten run in the RPL was 28 matches by Spartak Moscow from 19 August 2016 to 17 September 2017.
The most goals scored in a single RPL season was 25 by Aleksandr Kerzhakov for Zenit St. Petersburg in the 2011-12 season.
The most assists provided in a single RPL season was 17 by Igor Lebedenko for Torpedo Moscow in the 2004 season.
Current Season of the RPL
The current season of the RPL is the 2022-23 season, which started on 9 July 2022 and is scheduled to end on 28 May 2023. The season features the same 16 teams that competed in the previous season, as no teams were relegated or promoted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams are:
Akhmat GroznyGroznyAkhmat Arena30,597
Arsenal TulaTulaArsenal Stadium20,048
CSKA MoscowMoscowVEB Arena30,000
Dynamo MoscowMoscowVTB Arena26,319
Krylia Sovetov SamaraSamaraCosmos Arena44,918
Lokomotiv MoscowMoscowRZD Arena27,320
Rubin KazanKazanAk Bars Arena45,379
Spartak MoscowMoscowOtkritie Arena45,360
Ural YekaterinburgYekaterinburgCentral Stadium35,696
Zenit St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgGazprom Arena<
Zhemchuzhina SochiSochiFisht Olympic Stadium<
The current season of the RPL is very competitive and exciting, as the teams are fighting for the title, the European spots, and the survival. As of 22 June 2023, the league table looks like this:
PositionTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGoals ForGoals AgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Zenit St. Petersburg (C)
2.Spartak Moscow (Q)
3.Lokomotiv Moscow (Q)
C: Champion; Q: Qualified fo