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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Desperate CSKA, Dynamo Set to Battle




Moscow's CSKA and Dynamo, the army and police clubs who molded Soviet soccer half a century ago, renew a historic rivalry at 5 p.m. Saturday desperate for points to get out of the depths of the Russian premier division.


Yet a sense of tradition means early reverses have done nothing to end Dynamo's hopes of a first title in 22 years or former Russia coach Pavel Sadyrin's plans of blending youth and maturity to recreate the battling army spirit that took CSKA to the double in 1991, the year Soviet soccer ceased to exist.


Derbies against Spartak and Lokomotiv were postponed last weekend to allow their currently more successful neighbors to prepare for European semifinals, leaving CSKA and Dynamo in the 13th and 15th spots on the 16-team table with just a point each from their first two games.


The lowly standings will matter little, however, when the two sides, ambitions undimmed by the cobwebs in their trophy cabinets, take to the muddy pitch at the old Dynamo Stadium, where earlier in the week a cool Ronaldo double killed off Spartak to put Inter Milan into the UEFA Cup final.


Both have little but the league to aim for after going out in the Russian Cup quarterfinals, Dynamo to Cup Winners Cup semifinalist Lokomotiv, which beat it in last year's Russian final, and CSKA to the 1997 league runner-up Rotor Volgograd.


Dynamo, which can look forward to next season's UEFA Cup after finishing third in the league in 1997 and which is one of the best-funded Russian clubs, has scored just once in three games.


CSKA, hard-hit by the Russian army's financial crisis, hope finally to find a new rhythm after key players walked out when Sadyrin came back a year ago.


The side scored three goals in Volgograd on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the team had let in five by the end of extra time. Rotor's Oleg Veretennikov, league top scorer last season, scored a hat trick -- and his eighth goal in two games -- against CSKA.


Last year's second-highest scorer, Dynamo's Oleg Teryokhin, has yet to find the net. Until he does, the police club's boast of having the best defense in the league will be worth nothing.


CSKA's problems lie more at the back. Former Dynamo Kiev veteran Igor Kutepov will probably have to hand the goalkeeper's jersey to the younger Andrei Novosadov for Saturday's game after letting in five goals in the quarterfinal.


With the midfield, anchored by 22-year-old captain and rising Russian international Sergei Semak, mostly set, Sadyrin's other main change may be up front where Vladimir Kulik, who has seen limited action so far this season, looks to be getting the nod.


CSKA's main striker, Kulik, who joined from Zenit St. Petersburg with long-time mentor Sadyrin, has been off form, like Teryokhin, who was even pulled off by coach Adamas Golodets in the second half of last week's cup quarterfinal.


Both men will be out to redeem themselves against familiar opposition Saturday.


It is a CSKA home game but being played at Dynamo's bigger stadium in the hope of a good derby crowd.