RFN Top 50 2018: 50-36

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As 2018 has turned into 2019, it is time for an annual tradition on GClub Casino: The RFN Top 50. We rank the 50 best players in the Russian Premier Liga (RPL) in 2018 by their performances throughout the year, think of it as the RFN Ballon d’Or, and we start with the players ranked 50-36

This is the fourth year in our annual tradition, and definitely, the hardest yet, let us know who you would have picked, and we hope you enjoy it.


50. Igor Konovalov (Midfielder, Rubin Kazan) NEW ENTRY

Having signed for Rubin last winter from Kuban Krasnodar, the 22 year old midfielder has become a key player in the centre of the field for Kurban Berdyev. Quick feet and a great delivery of the ball saw him adapt very well to RPL football, and with his form continuing into the 18/19 season, saw calls from many for a national team call up.


49. Sergey Petrov (Defender, FC Krasnodar) NEW ENTRY

The versatile full-back has long been an underrated player, but his ability to play at either left back or right back for Krasnodar has seen him become a key player for them in recent years. Hard working and willing to get forward regularly, he has had another solid year, particularly in Europe where he chipped in with two assists in their Europa League campaign.


48. Idrissa Doumbia (Midfielder, Akhmat Grozny – now Sporting CP) NEW ENTRY

The young Ivorian signed a 5 year deal with Akhmat in the summer, and played almost every minute between then and the winter break, scoring once and chipping in with a couple of assists. Just 20 years old, he looked experienced beyond his years and his hard-working box-to-box performances deservedly caught the eye of scouts in Europe, earning a move to Sporting CP in Portugal for a rumoured €4m.


47. Ilzat Akhmetov (Midfielder, CSKA Moscow) NEW ENTRY

For the first 6 months of 2018, Akhmetov was listed as an administrative assistant at Rubin Kazan, having refused to sign a new contract when the club switched from a public to a privately owned company. Having forced his way out of Rubin, CSKA picked the youngster up on a free, and he has taken to his new team with flying colours. His excellent performances in the league and in Europe saw him named Russian young player of the year.

Ilzat Akhmetov battles Roman Zobnin in the CSKA – Spartak derby earlier this season | Championat


46. Aleksandr Belenov (Goalkeeper, FC Ufa) -4

Despite his ageing years, Belenov seems to somehow continue to get better every season. FC Ufa have struggled on the whole this season, having started slowly thanks to having to juggle the league with their first foray into Europe. However, Belenov has been the difference between where they lie now in the table, and perhaps being in a very perilous position, with another string of top saves this year.


45. Ivan Oblyakov (Midfielder, CSKA Moscow) NEW ENTRY

Oblyakov’s year is nicely split into two spells. He started the year with Ufa, helping them qualify for the Europa League and even playing for them in every round until they were knocked out against Rangers. His impressive performances at such a young age saw him sign for CSKA Moscow late in the summer for around €4m. Since being reunited with former boss Viktor Goncharenko, Obylakov has been deployed in a number of positions but has still turned in some excellent performances.


44. Dmitriy Stotskiy (Midfielder, FC Krasnodar) NEW ENTRY

Stotskiy is yet another FC Ufa player who made the jump to another club in the summer. Having been one of Ufa’s best players over the last couple of seasons with his incredible work rate and versatility, it was only a matter of time before a bigger club came calling. Krasnodar was that club, and he has instantly slotted in to be a regular at either right or left full back. At Ufa, he was a pivotal role in their Europa League qualification and primarily played as an attacking midfielder.


43. Erik Bicfalvi (Midfielder, Ural Ekaterinburg) +4

If Ural are going to score or win, most would guess that Erik Bicfalci will have something to do with it. The Romanian attacking midfielder is not overly fast, or flashy, but he is undoubtedly a hugely talented footballer. Always in the right place, and with great technique on his passing and shooting, he is constantly a threat to other teams, and his performances out east have seen him linked with some of the league’s bigger clubs, despite already being 31.

Bicfalvi in action for Ural Ekaterinburg | SovSport


42. Zemlikhan Bakaev (Midfielder, Arsenal Tula – on loan from Spartak Moscow) NEW ENTRY

The young winger has been given his first taste of RPL football this season on loan from Spartak Moscow and has taken his opportunity with open arms. The 22-year-old’s direct playing style and electric pace has seen him earn a regular spot in Arsenal’s starting eleven, and he has repaid his manager’s faith with 5 goals in 15 appearances. Oleg Kononov, who started the season as Arsenal boss but was appointed at Spartak in November, has tried to cut Bakaev’s loan spell short, but with no such clause, he will remain in Tula until the summer.


41. Egor Sorokin (Defender, Rubin Kazan) NEW ENTRY

Before the start of last season, Sorokin had gone over two years without playing for Rubin’s first team and had been away on loan. However, as the season rumbled on he got back into the first team frame, and starting in early 2018, he really started to shine. Since then, he’s gone on to cement a regular starting squad in Rubin’s defence, underlined by his composure and good passing out of the back. This season it’s gone to another level, and his performances, including 4 goals, have seen him earn a first Russian cap and bids from Zenit.


40. Dmitri Skopintsev (Defender, FC Rostov – now FC Krasnodar) NEW ENTRY

Skopintsev made the step up from FNL to RPL last winter but only really showed he is capable of playing at this level from the start of this season. He has become a crucial member of Rostov’s team as starting left wing back aged 21 and has chipped in with a goal and three assists this season for the first team. There have been calls for a national team call up from fans, and there have been strong links to a move to Zenit, the club he started his career at.


39. Ilya Kutepov (Defender, Spartak Moscow) NEW ENTRY

Injuries to key defenders Viktor Vasin and Georgy Dzhikiya early in 2018 lead to Kutepov suddenly becoming a first choice centre half for Russia at the จีคลับคาสิโน สมัครคาสิโ during the summer. As Russia went on a dream run, reaching the quarter-finals at their home tournament, Kutepov was a key member of the team, and he played every minute. Despite being known for some shaky performances at times for club Spartak, Kutepov was outstanding, reportedly attracting interest from clubs around Europe. He even assisted a goal in the 3-1 victory vs Egypt.

Ilya Kutepov in action for Russia during the 2018 จีคลับคาสิโน สมัครคาสิโ | Getty Images


38. Guilherme (Goalkeeper, Lokomotiv Moscow) NEW ENTRY

The Brazilian turned Russian goalkeeper was a key figure for Lokomotiv as they sealed the title in the 17/18 season. As the spring resumed, numerous challengers appeared to try and make the run in difficult for Lokomotiv, but Guilherme kept up his early season form and put in some terrific performances as they won the league. Called up to the จีคลับคาสิโน สมัครคาสิโ squad, but cut from the final 23, Guilherme has remained first choice for Loko as they have struggled this season, and admittedly had some poor performances as they slumped out of the Champions League.


37. Georgi Shchennikov (Defender, CSKA Moscow) NEW ENTRY

Having only become CSKA’s first choice left back within the last two years, Schennikov has had the best year of his career to date arguably. He has been deployed in a more offensive, attacking role, and despite some clear defensive weaknesses (see Europa League vs Arsenal), he has shown that he is still more than capable as an RPL wing back, scoring and assisting more frequently, including a goal in CSKA’s famous 3-0 win vs Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.


36. Cristian Ramirez (Defender, FC Krasnodar) NEW ENTRY

The Ecuadorian left-back has become a real fan favourite over the last year, with him being seen speaking Russian in videos on the club’s Youtube channel and during the pitchside interviews. His performances on the pitch have not dropped in quality either, and he is arguably one of the best left-backs in the league. Good in both defence and offence and with a dangerous free kick, it surely can’t be long before a transfer comes along.



Author: David Sansun

Arsenal and Rubin Kazan fan. Possibly too optimistic for Russian football which means I’m left disappointed a lot.

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