Everything Chelsea Fans Need to Know About FC Krasnodar

Oct 28, 2020, 1:30 PM GMT
Krasnodar players celebrate their Champions League qualification | SAKIS MITROLIDIS/Getty Images

After getting their 2020/21 Champions League campaign off to a somewhat turgid start with a 0-0 home draw with Sevilla, Chelsea will hope they can remain in the competition for the long haul after a round of 16 exit last season.

The Blues were certainly in for the long haul on Tuesday morning, as the squad boarded a plane due for Krasnodar in southern Russia - 2,176 miles away.

There, Frank Lampard's men will face Champions League debutants and relative unknown quantities FC Krasnodar on Wednesday evening - the kind of tricky away fixture you must endure and succeed in if you want to have staying power in Europe's premier club competition.

They'll just be glad this fixture comes in late October, rather than early December.

But just who are Krasnodar? 90min sheds some light on the dark horses of Group E...

A 'Maverick' Owner - Businessman Not Oligarch

Krasnodar will have supporters in the stands for Chelsea's visit | STR/Getty Images

While Chelsea boast a big-spending Russian owner, Krasnodar have their own.

However, by definition Sergey Galitsky is not an oligarch, on account of the supermarket chain owner being self-made.

According to the BBC, Galitsky started out with a single grocery store in Krasnodar in 1998, and that business grew exponentially to become the supermarket chain Magnit.

Of course, there was still a long way to go before forming a football club 20 years later...

A Club of Tender Age With Humble Beginnings

Samuel Eto'o, Ragnar Sigurdsson
Krasnodar faced Everton in the Europa League in 2014/15 | EuroFootball/Getty Images

FC Krasnodar were only formed in 2008, just 12 years ago, so you can safely assume their rise to this point has been pretty meteoric. Having entered into Russia's third tier, Krasnodar achieved two promotions in quick succession and focussed on steady growth to get to where they are today.

The club now has state of the art training facilities and Galitsky is so involved that he is said to know the names of all the players in the academy and even takes part in training. Impressive stuff.

Unsurprisingly, this is the Bulls' first foray into the Champions League, although the club has qualified for the Europa League on five occasions, including last season.

Having only been promoted to the Russian Premier League in 2011, Krasnodar made their European bow in 2014/15, drawn in a tough Europa League group with Everton, Lille and Wolfsburg.

State-of-the-Art Stadium

FC Krasnodar vs FC Amkar Perm - Russian Premier League
The Krasnodar Stadium will play host to Chelsea on Wednesday evening | Epsilon/Getty Images

It's not just the training facilities that are high spec.

The Black-Greens play their football at the state-of-the-art Krasnodar Stadium, to the east of the city. Built in 2016 in time for the World Cup two years later, the stunning ground holds 35,000 spectators.

However, despite being completed in time, Krasnodar was ultimately dropped as a World Cup host city, likely because it does not rank among the country's biggest, and perhaps also because of the stature of their clubs Krasnodar and FC Kuban.

Familiar Faces

Danilo Pereira, Remy Cabella
Newcastle fans probably don't remember Remy Cabella fondly... | Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

In its short history, Krasnodar has been home to former Premier League legends Manuel Fernandes and Andreas Granqvist.

They currently boast Newcastle flop Remy Cabella on the wing, while ex-Football Manager wonderkid Tonny Vilhena - still only 25 - is a member of their midfield ranks.

Swedish journeyman striker Marcus Berg - now 34 - is also plying his trade in the southern Russian city, at the tail end of a career that has spanned the Netherlands, Greece, Germany and the UAE.

Cabella and Berg have scored four and five goals respectively already this season - not stats to be sniffed at, even by Magpies supporters.

Eyes on the Future

Krasnodar's owner and chairman Galitsky has previously made the bold claim that he one day wants to field an XI made up entirely of academy products.

Given the nature of modern football most would scoff at that suggestion, but it genuinely could be a possibility for the Bulls in the not-too-distant future.

The club has excelled at youth level in recent seasons, winning the Under-18 Russian title in 2018 and taking Real Madrid to penalties in the UEFA Youth League last 16 the same season - in front of a record-breaking sell-out crowd no less.

It seems they are certainly ones to watch.

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