Who are Anzhi Makhachkala?

(Anzhi Makhachkala)

…The region’s football side, Anzhi Makhachkala, are in the throes of a new Russian Revolution, one which their oligarch owners hope will deliver them to the summit of not only the national, but the European, game.

In the next two weeks, Liverpool will find out first-hand how far they’ve come. This is a Europa League double-header with much more than first meets the eye.

The story of Anzhi is one of eye-watering quantities of money being thrown at a club who three years ago languished in the second division

Liverpool will not see any of Dagestan’s turmoil as the away group stage tie, on November 8, will be played at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, 1600km to the north, due to UEFA’s enduring ban on European games being played in Makhachkala.

It is one of the many curiosities of the Anzhi story that this will actually be a ‘local’ match for the players and their well-regarded coach Guus Hiddink. They live and train just outside of Moscow, flying first-class to all their domestic home matches at the rickety, Soviet-era Dynamo Stadium.

The squad cover nearly 50,000 miles a season just to fulfil their home fixtures.


players like Eto’o, who at 30 might be accused at playing at a standard beneath him until you realise his wage packet is reportedly £350,000 a week.

Roberto Carlos, 39, winner of the World Cup in 2002, finished his playing days with Anzhi and is now their sporting director. His last birthday present was a £1.8m Bugatti Veyron sports car.

Also in the squad is Christopher Samba, signed for £12.3m as Blackburn hurtled towards relegation from the Premier League last season. He earns £100,000 a week but has been the victim of racist abuse in the Russian League

.Zhirkov, who spent two years at Chelsea, joined for £13.2m in August 2011, and another former Stamford Bridge face, Lassana Diarra, moved from Real Madrid this year.They’re guided by Hiddink, another Chelsea connection of course, who was picked ahead of Fabio Capello for the job in February. His pay cheque is worth £8.3m a year.

‘We’re unpopular because people can’t understand how a club that won the second division [three years ago] are now title contenders,’ adds Samba.

But for Samba and his teammates, unpopularity is a small price to pay for being part of the Revolution.

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