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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lokomotiv, CSKA Get Set for 'Golden Match'

MTSoccer fans at Dynamo Stadium being let through barricades in small groups Wednesday to buy tickets for Thursday's "golden match" to decide the Premier League champion.
Lokomotiv or CSKA will be crowned the new Premier League champion Thursday after an exciting season that finally saw the end of Spartak Moscow's hegemony over Russian football.

After nine titles in 10 years, Spartak will just have to watch as its two Moscow rivals fight it out for the title in a "golden game" at Dynamo Stadium.

For Lokomotiv, runner-up in the last three years, the game gives it a chance to win its first league title, Russian or Soviet, and go into the second round of the Champions League, where it plays Real Madrid, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, on a high.

CSKA, one of the greats of the Soviet era and the winner of the last Soviet championship in 1991, hopes to show it has finally awoken from its dismal time in the Russia era.

Relations between the teams, which have usually been good, have been getting increasingly tense in the run-up to the match. The teams have argued over the date and the venue of the match, and CSKA coach Valery Gazzayev boasted of how his team is the real winner of the title because it has a better goal difference and more wins.

Meanwhile, Lokomotiv coach Yury Syomin had a dig at CSKA when he said he was willing to play anywhere except Vladikavkaz, in a not so subtle hint that Alania had been helping CSKA. Both sides had played against Alania in Vladikavkaz -- where Gazzayev was brought up and where he managed Alania to the 1995 title -- toward the end of the season with CSKA winning 1-0 and Loko only drawing 1-1.

Although Thursday's match is technically at a neutral venue, CSKA, with a much larger fan base than Lokomotiv, will have a huge majority of the fans in the 35,000-seat stadium.

Hundreds of fans turned up at Dynamo stadium on Wednesday as tickets for the game went on sale. Russian football authorities have for the first time in years sensibly kept the prices low enough -- between 40 and 120 rubles -- for ordinary fans, and the match is almost certain to be a sell out.

Fans continued to queue late in the evening, even though the day's quota of tickets was sold out, NTV television reported.

Last week Syomin appealed to Spartak fans, who are deadly rivals of CSKA, to come out to support Lokomotiv.

After last weekend's violence at CSKA's match with Saturn in Ramenskoye, police will be out in force for Thursday's game. About 4,000 police and soldiers will be on duty around the stadium, with special OMON forces, who have a testy relationship with local fans, in reserve if there is any trouble.

Police also will use 40 dogs to check the stadium for explosives, after two explosions rocked Alania's stadium last Sunday.

Fans outside Dynamo on Wednesday said there could be some fan trouble but not with Lokomotiv fans.

"They're neutral. Like Switzerland," said student Pyotr Poyarkov, 18, a CSKA supporter. He said the biggest problems are likely to be with the often heavy-handed police.

Fans are planning to bring lots of firecrackers to the match, he said.