Rubin Kazan Rolls, Continues Russian Dominance

Aleksandr Bukharov's goals bookended Rubin's 5-1 route of Saturn (photo:

Aleksandr Bukharov's goals bookended Rubin's 5-1 route of Saturn (photo:

At some point, we need to stop asking how good Rubin Kazan are and start wondering how good they can get. After today’s 5-1 over FC Saturn Moscow Oblast, Rubin has outscored their opponents 20-2 in their last six matches. Beyond the staggering goal differential, we’re starting to see the signs – good and bad – of a transcendently dominant squad.

A phrase like “transcendently dominant” requires some explanation, and looking at the flow of the first half in Kazan will help decipher the meaning. Rubin came out and scored early, a fourth minute goal from Aleksandr Bukharov. It was the type of quick, decisive, dominant strike you see from teams that are in form and (more than form) in control.

The next thirty minutes was the transcendent part. As if the first goal had come too quickly, too easily, Rubin allowed Saturn to play even with them for most of the half. The champions were up a goal and had a passive control of the play, but Saturn was able to keep much of the ball and show some ambition toward goal. It was the kind of temporary malaise you often see from teams that are so far above their competition that they can not help but drift beyond the match.

When those teams do get their heads back into the match, realizing they should be dominating, the results come quick. For Rubin, it was three goals in ten minutes before half, breaking Saturn. Alejandro Dominguez converted a 35th minute penalty kick before winger Aleksandr Ryazantsev bagged a brace before the whistle. Despite playing the league’s best team even for most of the half, Saturn went into the visitor’s locker room down four goals at the whistle.

Saturn’s Marko Topic would score in the second, and shortly after Aleksandr Bukharov would get his second of the match to bring his league total to 13 on the season. The 5-1 final bookends Rubin’s 5-0 victory in May at Saturn Stadium, a match in which Alejandro Dominguez had a hat-trick.

In that light, perhaps it is not appropriate to base grand conclusion about Rubin on this match alone. There is clearly something about Saturn that makes them incapable of matching up in even a modest way with Rubin. The champions lead the league in goals scored by have no other matches in league where they’ve hit the five goal mark. Only Saturn has been that generous.

Beyond the scores, there are other reasons to think this Rubin club has reached a new level of capability. They are now able to post dominant results while playing in cruise control for stretches. That might sound like a bad thing – putting it in “cruise control” – but it’s a natural growth from playing beyond your competition. Their sights are set higher – possibly Champions League. That they are able to look at those goals while still dominating good competition (Saturn is eighth in the league) is telling.

Richard Farley/The Kartik Report