Comparing the Russian Premier League & the Saudi Professional League
Both leagues are certainly down the pecking order when looking at the major leagues around the world but they do both provide some competitive action throughout. So what is the history of both leagues and who are the current leading teams to watch out for?
Russia are set to host the World Cup in the coming weeks and will be playing Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the competition with both teams having been drawn in Group A. This is likely to showcase Russian football well and could certainly help it to grow in popularity around the World for the growing football audience. The latest odds World Cup 2018 has Russia heading into the match as the 1/4 favourites and they do look to be a class above when looking through each squad. Russia are also 9/5 to top the group behind Uruguay with Saudi Arabia in at 33/1 just showing the daunting task they have ahead of them.
Russian Premier League
The Russian Premier League has only been around for 17 years having been founded back in 2001 before then be rebranded the following year. It is the top division in Russian football and has been the source of some top talent over the years. The league consists of 16 teams with 3 Champions league spots available, of course given to the teams finishing first, second and third. The fourth and fifth placed sides are then allocated Europa League spots. This is similar to that of the English Premier League with one loss available spot for each.
Spartak Moscow are currently the most successful side in the history of the league with 10 titles and they also have one of the biggest fan bases to boot. They are, however, not the current title holders as following a very competitive season it was Lokomotiv Moscow who landed the spoils with 60 points. This was there third title in the leagues short history so firmly puts them down as one of the teams to look out for representing Russia in next seasons Champions League.
There are several star names who have graced the division and this year it was Dutch born Quincy Promes who played a key role in Spartak Moscow’s third place finish having finished as the top scorer in the league with 14 goals. The national side will certainly be hoping that stars such as CSKA Moscow player Alan Dzagoev can bring in there impressive club form to the national stage.
Saudi Professional League
The Saudi Professional League on the other hand is less known around the world in comparison to the likes of the previously mentioned Russian Premier League. The league dates back 42 years with the first season taking place starting in 1976. There are 16 teams in the division with the most successful being AI-Hilal.
AI-Hilal have incredibly won the top tier on 14 separate occasions that included the most recent season. This was a hard fought victory throughout where they eventually held on to top spot by just one point following a late surge from AI Ahli. The two teams pulled well clear of the rest so it is likely they will be dominating for years to come as they also finished in the same positions the previous year.
The games in the league are well attended with several stadiums in excess of 60,000 just showing the popularity of the sport in the country. There is no doubt that the quality is below that of the Russian Premier league but it continues to grow with several talented players coming through. This will be Saudi Arabia’s fifth World Cup finals appearance following their most recent back in Germany 2006. They are also sitting 63rd in the World rankings so expectations will certainly be low going in but they may just be able to shock a few teams come Russia.