Back in 2005, CSKA won the UEFA Cup and then in 2008 Zenit St. Petersburg bettered this with UEFA Cup and Super Cup final wins over Rangers and Manchester United.
These remain the best Russian triumphs in European competition to date, but could they go one better?
With Zenit St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow’s consistent exploits reaching new heights in UEFA’s tournaments (Zenit beat Porto in Portugal last week), there is obviously the capability to compete at a fairly high level.
And the financial backing is certainly not lacking - but is the domestic quality there to attract the best players in order for a Russian team to conquer arguably the greatest club competition in the world, the Champions League.
With the home-grown talents of Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin and Akinfeev, Russia are certainly up there with the second best nations in Europe; they’re not Germany or Spain, just yet! This is proved by their consistently good performance at the Euros and their qualification for Brazil 2014 ahead of Portugal.
As for the money, well, I’m sure Hulk and Axel Witsel will tell you there is certainly a lot of it around. Although footballers won’t like to admit it, money is perhaps the biggest driving force in the modern game and, especially with Zenit’s Gazprom backing, the best players could soon be swarming towards the millions of Roubles offered in Russia.
This could catapult the Russian Premier League from UEFA’s seventh best league to nearer the top, up with the big boys of La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Barclay’s Premier League.
Unfortunately, the Russian League is not as competitive as some would like, with Zenit, CSKA, Spartak and Dinamo the only clubs realistically competing for the championship.
However, this more competitive than La Liga and also perhaps the Bundesliga where Real Madrid and Barca, and Dortmund and Bayern dominate. There are often six goal thrashings at the hands of these titans in both countries.
These hindrances have obviously not hampered Spain and Germany in their pursuit of glory, for both club and country! So Russia could do it as well!
Unfortunately, Russian football is often marred by the country’s failings, such as discrimination of race and sexuality, recently shown in the CSKA fans' clashes with Manchester City’s players and the protests in Russia against Putin.
Nevertheless I believe that this is something the Russian Government not their FA or UEFA has to deal with. The Russian culture has to change in order to change their football.
Hopefully, racism and other discrimination will soon become obsolete with increased punishments and suspensions.
If the Russian cultural issues can be addressed then I see no reason, barring any catastrophes, why the Russian League cannot follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga and grow into one of the best in Europe and therefore why a Russian team cannot one day lift the Champions League.
I will let you make your own decision but only time will tell, for certain.
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