The table is topped by Spar­tak, which is five points ahead of the St. Peters­burg team.

The start to the new sea­son of the Russ­ian Cham­pi­onship was the worst for Zen­it in the last ten years.

On Sun­day, Zen­it lost at home to Dynamo (2:3) in the match of the third round of the RPL. The team scored 4 points out of 9 pos­si­ble and is in sev­enth place in the stand­ings. The last time the nine-time Russ­ian cham­pi­on start­ed so poor­ly was in the 2013/14 sea­son, when he scored 4 points and took sev­enth place.

Why is everyone talking about the crisis at Zenit?

Zen­it is the hege­mon of the RPL in recent years: the club became the cham­pi­on five times in a row, and in the last sea­son scored 70 points in 30 match­es. At the begin­ning of the 23/24 sea­son, Zen­it con­fi­dent­ly defeat­ed Paris Nizh­ny Nov­gorod with a score of 2:0, and then tied with Ros­tov (1:1).

But the lat­est results do not please the fans. Andrei Arshavin, a for­mer Zen­it play­er and now deputy gen­er­al direc­tor for sports devel­op­ment, reas­sured that the prob­lems are solv­able:

“Zen­it is not in cri­sis, but the team is look­ing for itself. The loss­es in the com­po­si­tion are large. Wen­del and Mario Fer­nan­dez are not ready yet. Zen­it is try­ing to save match­es with unpre­pared play­ers. Let’s see what will hap­pen next”.

Peo­ple start­ed talk­ing about the cri­sis because of the depar­ture of Zen­it’s top scor­er Mal­colm to Sau­di Ara­bia (find out more about its rea­sons in our mate­r­i­al). There are many Brazil­ians at Zen­it who have pro­duced results. Mal­colm’s depar­ture, as well as the lim­bo of oth­er Brazil­ian lead­ers Wen­del and Claud­in­ho, hit the team.

Who can become the champion of this RPL season?

Experts cal­cu­lat­ed that Zen­it had the worst attack in the RPL at the start of the sea­son — over three rounds the team cre­at­ed 1.9 xG chances (a spe­cial sys­tem that eval­u­ates scor­ing episodes based on the dan­ger coef­fi­cient). This is the worst result in the league, which shows that with­out Mal­com, Zen­it has prob­lems in attack.

In the 2013/14 sea­son, when Zen­it also had 4 points after three rounds, the club became the sil­ver medal­ist, los­ing to CSKA. There­fore, many expect that this RPL sea­son the intrigue will be revived, and anoth­er team will become the cham­pi­on.

Pensive Sergei Semak

One of the can­di­dates is Moscow Spar­tak, which is now in first place and ahead of Zen­it by 5 points. How­ev­er, this is only the begin­ning of the cham­pi­onship, and Zen­it will gain momen­tum, because the red and white are also crit­i­cized for mis­takes in defense.