If FC Rubin Kazan overcome FC Zenit St. Petersburg on Saturday, they will claim a second successive Russian title and defender Roman Sharonov is determined "nobody should unsettle" his side.
With two games to go, Kurban Berdyev's side are four points clear of second-placed FC Spartak Moskva, who face PFC CSKA Moskva on the same day. Due to a contractual agreement with his old club, Rubin cannot field creative fulcrum Alejandro Domínguez – who has scored 16 league goals this season, eight of them penalties – against Zenit, but central defender Sharonov hopes they can rise above that. "The coaches can think about that; we should just prepare for a game," he said. "It is very important, but nobody should unsettle us."
Rubin's Sergei Semak played in Russia's 1-0 FIFA World Cup play-off defeat in Slovenia on Wednesday, along with Zenit's Igor Denisov and Aleksandr Anyukov, and all three will need to shake off that disappointment as they reconvene in Kazan. Rubin take on FC Dynamo Kyiv in a crucial UEFA Champions League Group F game at the Centralniy Stadium on Tuesday, but Sharonov is not looking beyond Saturday's match. "We are only thinking about Zenit and not about the Champions League at the moment," he said.
Back in Moscow, Spartak captain Martin Jiránek is keeping his fingers crossed for the St Petersburg side. "I hope Zenit beat Rubin," he said. "I am supporting them." CSKA are without Brazilian striker Guilherme but Tomáš Necid is available, with coach Leonid Slutski facing a dilemma as he looks to balance derby demands with European ambitions.
"I fully understand the importance of this match to our fans," he said. CSKA lie sixth in the Premier-Liga and have yet to confirm a European place for next season ahead of Wednesday's Group B home game against VfL Wolfsburg, where defeat would end their last-16 hopes. "Players and coaches understand how extraordinary this tie is, but we have very important matches in the UEFA Champions League and I can't say either game is less important," Slutski concluded.