Ten claims to fame: Krasnodar

Krasnodar have only been in Europe for three seasons, but they are becoming an established force in the UEFA Europa League. UEFA.com gets up close with Fenerbahçe’s round of 32 opponents.

Formed: 2008
Nicknames: Bulls, Black-and-Greens, Citizens

UEFA club competition honours
• none

Domestic honours
• none 

Krasnodar Stadium

Krasnodar Stadium illuminated©Getty Images

• The club owes its existence to a supermarket chain. FK Krasnodar were founded in 2008 by local businessman Sergey Galitski, owner of the ubiquitous Magnit stores, and took just three years to make it from the third tier to the top flight.

• Their nickname comes from the beast on the club’s badge. “It would have been strange if a club from the Kuban region had a parrot or a giraffe on their logo,” Galitski explained. “The bull is a symbol of our region.”

• Krasnodar’s ascent to the top division meant that, for the first time, a city other than Moscow had two teams in the Premier League, with Kuban – founded in 1928 – losing 1-0 to their ten-man neighbours in their first league derby. The Bulls had the better of the sides’ ten top-flight meetings (W5 D2 L3) before Kuban were relegated in 2016.

Igor Shalimov (USSR)

Igor Shalimov with the USSR at the 1990 World Cup©Getty Images

• The Bulls have been nearly men in Russian football so far. They reached the 2014 Russian Cup final, holding Rostov to a 0-0 draw with ten men before losing 6-5 on penalties, Yuri Gazinski the unfortunate player whose shot was saved. The following season, they came third in the league – their best finish so far.

• Having shared the Kuban Stadium with their rivals, the Black-and-Greens moved to their new Krasnodar Stadium in October 2016, the club’s first match there resulting in a 1-0 loss to Schalke in the UEFA Europa League group stage. The 34,000-seater venue is one of the best in eastern Europe. Crucially it is heated – good news for away fans, given that February temperatures of -30C have been recorded in this part of southern Russia.

• Their coach is a big name in Russia. Igor Shalimov stepped up to replace his boss Oleg Kononov on a stand-in basis in August 2016, earning the post full-time with five wins in his first six games. One of Russia’s most exciting players in his day, he shone for Spartak Moskva, and helped Internazionale Milano win the 1994 UEFA Cup – though he did not play in the final. Prior to taking charge at Krasnodar, his biggest appointment had been coaching Russia’s senior international women’s team, from 2008–11.

Fedor Smolov (Russia)

Fedor Smolov is a regular for Russia©Getty Images

• The Black-and-Greens are increasingly a major source of players for the Russian national team; last season’s top scorer Fedor Smolov, goalkeeper Stanislav Kritsyuk, defender Sergei Petrov and midfielder Pavel Mamaev all receive regular call-ups, while Brazilian-born attacking midfielder Joãozinho – a Krasnodar player since 2011 – may soon be in contention after being granted Russian citizenship last summer. However, their captain and defensive mainstay is a Swede, Andreas Granqvist.

• Keeping hold of Smolov may be Krasnodar’s biggest challenge this winter. The 2016 Russian Player of the Year has been linked with a €10m move to Borussia Dortmund. The 26-year-old said: “There is one club in Germany I would be ready to join, but I don’t think I will be leaving in the winter – more like summer.” Time enough to leave as a UEFA Europa League winner, then!

• Their next big step is to grow their own talent. Krasnodar have a superb training base, the Chetuk complex, and are perhaps overseeing the development of young players in the 26 branches of the club’s academy in the region, including one next to their stadium. At Galitski’s insistence, young players are learning chess as well as football – expect some smart, tactically aware Krasnodar youngsters soon.

• This is Krasnodar’s third successive UEFA Europa League campaign; they got to the group stage in 2014/15 and the round of 32 last time out, losing to Sparta Praha. Having made a habit of breaking new ground, they will be targeting the round of 16 when they meet Fenerbahçe.

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