Football: Leaders Spartak face Rubin test

Russian Premier League table-toppers Spartak Moscow will have to pass a serious test of their title credentials as they take on two-time champions Rubin Kazan on Sunday.

Spartak, who are in the hunt for their 10th national title, will still be without their Ukrainian international 'keeper Andrei Dykan and Brazilian midfielder Romulo, who are both injured.

"We are preparing for a serious battle," Spartak manager Valery Karpin said.

"All of our players worked hard as they understand that Rubin are tough opponents. They have their own objectives for the season and without doubts they will do their best to obtain a positive result against Spartak."

On Sunday, Rubin will be able to field a full-strength squad with just one exception. Their Finnish international Roman Eremenko, who is on the club's injury list, will be unlikely to play in Moscow.

Rostov, who surprise sit level on points with Spartak at the top of the table, will be looking to continue their unbeaten start when they face unfancied visitors Volga Nizhny Novgorod on Monday.

However, Rostov's Montenegrin manager Miodrag Bozovic warned his men not to underestimate their opponents.

"We (Rostov) do not divide our opponents into strong or weak," Bozovic said. "We battle hard for every single point -- that's our style.

"We currently have a group of players who are ready to struggle for the win in the every match. We were set a task of finishing in the top 10. But I can currently see that we can achieve even better this season."

Rostov will be without their French striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who is not yet fully fit.

Meanwhile, the clash between Zenit St Petersburg and Anzhi Makhachkala will be the first test for the Dagestan club after Anzhi owner Suleiman Kerimov announced his shock decision to cut its budget and to sell some of the team's leading players.

The clash with Zenit will likely show whether a new-look Anzhi are capable of keeping touch with the division's top clubs after they sold Russia captain Igor Denisov, Yury Zhirkov and Alexander Kokorin to Dinamo Moscow this week.

Reigning champions CSKA Moscow, who are currently third in the table, will face Kuban Krasnodar in the capital on Sunday.

The Red Army side will be without their stopper Alexei Berezutsky, who was sidelined for six weeks with a dislocated collarbone, and Latvian midfielder Aleksandrs Cauna, who has not yet fully recovered after a leg injury.

Meanwhile, Kuban's Romanian manager Dorinel Munteanu, who took over the club last month, will be able to field a full-strength squad as they look to leapfrog CSKA in the table with a win.



Ural Yekaterinburg v Amkar Perm, Zenit St Petersburg v Anzhi Makhachkala, Terek Grozny v Lokomotiv Moscow


CSKA Moscow v Kuban Krasnodar, Spartak Moscow v Rubin Kazan, Samara v Tomsk, FC Krasnodar v Dinamo Moscow


Rostov v Volga Nizhny Novgorod