All the teams are playing great football now. It will be hard to fight for top-6! Some people don’t like Yekaterinburg’s stadium. But i think it is very cool! I think Zenit will win 2-1. Why are FC Ural fans so pessimistic? Hot kebabs! Come and try! When it comes to the price-quality aspect, we are top of the league! This is so sweet! Dzyubochkaaaa! Four goals on average in this game, so there will be goals galore! I don’t want to disappoint you, Masha! But the lads are already naked! And if we win, there will be a party! The whole city will be drunk! Hello, dear friends! I am touring the Russian Premier League again – and today I am in Yekaterinburg! At this beautiful stadium. Some don’t like it, but i can’t understand why! It’s fantastic, cozy and stylish! Today FC Ural – a strong mid-table team – hosts one of the leaders, Zenit St. Petersburg! Zenit lost their last league game against Lokomotiv – i went there and filmed a blog too! And they play FC Ural, who also lost – at home to CSKA Moscow, which put them at the top of the table. Let’s chat to the fans, watch the game – and maybe i will have a special guest on this blog. COME ON!!! You have a difficult game today – against the recent leader and incumbent champion, Zenit St. Petersburg! But FC Ural are wounded too – by the recent loss against CSKA. What are you expecting today? FC Ural will have a hard time today. Zenit are among the League’s leaders. They also played electric football in the Champions League, having beaten Benfica 3-1. We might have a chance if we score early. But, being more real, i think we will lose. Lose? Really? Yeah, i think so. What’s it like – being a FC Ural fan? The team which is always in the mid-table. Is the fact that the team enjoys Premier League football the most important for you? Yes, i think so. We can see that the team is trying hard to go up a level! We can see that they are fighting for results. What about the Cup? You’ve been to the Final a few times. We have a good chance at the Cup. Recently beat Chernomorets. Honestly, don’t remember who we are playing next. But we have every chance to progress! What do you think should be the priority – getting higher in the League or winning the Cup? I think the Cup should be the priority. We should win the Cup. Because of the way Rostov, Krasnodar and others play now. All the teams are playing great football now. It will be hard to fight for top-6! I fell in love with this beauty during the World Cup. Particularly this vintage facade! And this modern beauty built on top of it! Some people don’t like Yekaterinburg’s stadium. But i think it is very cool! It is very pretty and has those pretty “ears”! This stand was told to be removed after the World Cup, but it’s still here. And it is an away end! When i worked with Peter Schmeichel here, he saw the stadium and said – look how pretty it is! And my dad who lived here and trained at this stadium was very happy that the orginal facade was kept. And now it looks like a spaceship landed on top of the old stadium. How can you not love this? Hot kebabs! Come and try! Four goals on average in this game – when Ural play Zenit – so there will be goals galore! – Expecting lots of goals then? – Yes, hope so! Who shall win it? Zenit. I am hoping for a 1-1 draw thoughh. Quite low expectations? Yeah, Ural is not that good. But Ural plays well against big clubs! Have beaten Spartak many times. Well, that is Spartak – a convenient opponent for us. Zenit is much stronger. FC Ural have never beaten Zenit! Well, there is a first time for everything! We’ll see! What are your expectations from the season? I gather the Cup should be the priority? Yeah, it should be. Besides, Parfenov has already won the Cup with Tosno. So we want it! I would really want to see our team in Europe. Ideally, 5th or 6th place finish. But the gap is already huge. So that would be unlikely. That is why we should go for the Cup. European footy would be massive for the club? Yes, and for the city too! Expectations from the game? I think Zenit will win 2-1. Why are FC Ural fans so pessimistic? You are the 3rd to say that FC Ural would lose. We will fight, for sure. But Zenit are simply better. They played great football in the Champions League too. Maybe they are tired because of UCL games? Nah, i think Dzyuba will score for sure. Don’t know how many, but i think it will be 2-1. Maybe a draw, but FC Ural will not win this one. So a draw would be a great result for Ural? Yeah, a very decent result! But you lot play well against big clubs – particularly Spartak Moscow! Yeah, but Zenit are just too good this season. Both in attack and defense. What are your season priorities – getting higher in the table to European spots or win the Cup? I think we have what it takes to finish in the European spot. But we will see. But what should be the priority? After all, the Cup takes the team to Europe directly. Yes, i think we should try to have a go at the Cup. Well, FC Ural fans seem to be quite pessimistic. Although some may argue they are being realistic. But FC Ural have a fan, who seems to be SUPER-optimistic. She is VERY pretty, she is a “Miss FC Ural” and her name is Masha Panina. I’ll go chat with her! Well, hello there! – Great weather, isn’t it? – Yes! An absolute gift for all of us at the Urals. A week ago i sported a puffer jacket, a light jacket yesterday – and today an overcoat. It is a bit windy at the stadium. Expecting a big crowd today? Yeah, only 2 thousand tickets were availble for sale yesterday. The weather is gorgeous, so people should turn up. After the World Cup, there has been much more interest in football. So people opt to spend some part of their weekend here – at our stadium! I was here a year ago, when FC Ural played Krylya Sovetov. Tense game, which ended 1-1. But the stadium was not packed! That was because it was the game against Krylya Sovetov. But today we are playing Zenit, so it will be full. The stadium gets packed when we play top teams. So i am expecting a full house today! And good atmosphere, right? The fans will go topless again you think? They always do! A weird habit they have – and they seem to love it! Girls do not go topless here. Although i think it would’ve broken all headlines! All magazines and newspapers would’ve run that story! I can hear skepticism in your voice regarding topless lads! You dont like that? I understand this is some kind of tradition, but i think it is a bit weird. I dont know – maybe it gets SO hot at the Ultras stand, that they opt to get their tops off! But can’t say im supporting that. They’d better be off wearing clothes. What if they get ill and miss the next game? That won’t be good – they need to be healthy and be here at every match! – Maybe they are actually getting stronger because of that? – Maybe! What’s it like – being a FC Ural fan? The club which doesn’t win trophies and always at mid-table. But, at the same time, it’s your only club here – and the biggest club in the Urals! Exactly! It is OUR club. I live here and that is why i support it! I go to all home games – which happen here almost every week. It feels like home. And win or lose – it doesn’t matter that much. You still love it and still support it! I love coming here – to embrace all this atmosphere. I love bringing friends here. “Wait, you haven’t been to the stadium?! Go there NOW!” I really want this to develop more and more. So that people come to sports events more – instead of sitting at home. We got FC Ural, HC Avotomobilist, UGMK. Lots of sports teams here. But for now, most of people opt to stay at home, go to a mall or have lunch somewhere. I am against that. I want them to come here and bring their kids and friends! I want them to adapt a new form of entertainment. For me it is more than that, it is part of my life now. I am excited just by being here. And when our team wins – it feels even better! And if it beats a top team – it is a double joy! That is one of FC Ural’s features – playing well against top clubs! Beating Spartak many times! Yeah, that is so! You know – every time i go to Moscow, FC Ural always beats Spartak! I don’t know why! My Spartak-supporting friends tell me “Masha do not come to Moscow! Spartak will lose if you do!” The last time i was there – we won 2-1. And friends told me not to come there again. It was a joke, of course! What are you expecting today? Zenit just lost against Lokomotiv – and i was at that game. Ural lost to CSKA. I tend not to believe in statistics, but i think it actually works when we play Zenit. That FC Ural will either get a draw against them or lose. I am an optimist though and believe in my team. Would be great to win today! But i think Zenit are stronger. Plus, they’ve just won emphatically in the Champions League. They might be fatigued because of that! Well, if they are and lose today – i will be happy. Nevertheless, there is a good vibe here today! I hope it will be a good match in any case. So that people have fun and enjoy their time here. Eat barbeque by the main entrance and simply enjoy the day! And tell their friends through social media how good it is here – it works very well! People post pictures, others see it and think they should come too next time. Finally – what are you expecting from the season? 6th place? Or maybe getting into Europe? Think it would be massive for both the club and the city – to see European football here. We are VERY eager to see the club on the next level – when i can travel not only in Russia, but further away with my club! I think this season we will again prioritize the Cup. The teams there are beatable. I think we can again reach the Final – like last year. Besides, Lokomotiv are already out. They’ve been our Cup nemesis for the past several seasons. As for the League, i think we will end up mid-table – 7th or 8th. The Cup will be the priority That would be great! I keep recalling the previous two Cup Finals – genuine party! Feels like half of the city is on tour! We went to Sochi and Samara You go to every place there – and you see people you know. That feels incredible! If FC Ural gives us this opportunity again this year, i will be very happy! And if we win, there will be a party! The whole city will be drunk! So many good memories here! I was here when there was no lawn. It was getting ready to be opened. And Peter Schmeichel was deeply impressed with this stadium! He called it his favorite stadium in Russia. And now the Russian Prem games are played here – hosting Zenit! And i will now chat with FC Ural’s President Grigoriy Ivanov! What are your expectations? Both teams had lost – but playing against the reigning Champion is always hard! It certainly is! But we want to make it up to our fans after a heavy loss to CSKA. We always try to play well, but against CSKA both the result and the performance were woeful! So we will try to do better in this match! You’ve been running this club for a very long time. Are you happy with the way things are? Its League position and the expectations of fans? Of course i would love us to finish the season higher in the table than we usually do. I think we have a very solid team and great fans. Unfortunately, we don’t get what we want every time. But overall i can say i am happy. What’s the secret of the club’s relative success? Especially when you look at clubs like Baltika – with a World Cup stadium too. Yekaterinburg has always been a city of football. Our team played in the Soviet top League and in the early days of the Russian top League. So we have good traditions and we are keeping those traditions alive. We are developing youth football. Our youth team is in the top part of their table now. Ural-2 is also at the top part of the table. We are paying a lot of attention to our players and our academy. And that will bear fruit – sooner or later. We are strong on selection too – would never buy for the sake of buying. We buy players for the positions. And we are not over-paying too. When it comes to the price-quality aspect, we are top of the league! Is there anything you would like to change? Anything you are not entirely satisfied with? I’d love to see our fans pack the stadium at matches not only against the top teams. So that they always support FC Ural – at any game. But fans always react to the results displayed by the team. If the team plays well, the fans would fill the stadium every time. I tell this to players all the time too – we are playing for the fans, so need to do everything to make them happy! That’s the only thing i’d change. Other than that – all is very good. What is more important to you – getting higher in the League or win the Cup, which would bring European footy? To me, those have no difference. Of course, we would really want to win a trophy. But being high in the table is equally important to us. I know you are running off to the dressing room now, so i have one more question. How deep is your involvement with the team in football-related matters? I run this club, so of course i am deeply involved. It doesn’t happen every day – even in Russia! – Yes, i AM deeply involved! – Thank you!