The Russian team defeated the team of San Marino and on a major note completed the qualifying round of Euro 2020. In light of the heavy defeat from Belgium, this game was to become not only a balm for the soul of domestic fans, but also a great opportunity to experiment. In a duel with the main outsider of the sextet, you could not only try out new tactical schemes, but also see the nearest reserve. However, Stanislav Cherchesov ordered otherwise and released proven fighters on the lawn of Olimpico stadium.
Of course, at the start there were several new faces. Until now, Anton Shunin only twice went on the field in the sweater of the national team, and even then in friendly matches. In 2007, he appeared in a meeting with Poland, and four years later - with Greece. As for Maxim Belyaev, for Arsenal’s defender this was a full debut.
Once again, a place was found for Sergei Petrov. True, this time the defender of “Krasnodar” is located on his usual right brow, where he was replaced by Mario Fernandez. The CSKA football player has long been in bad shape, and therefore Cherchesov’s decision to provide him with rest seems quite reasonable.
The same can be said about the absence of Yuri Zhirkov. If in the previous match his appearance from the first minutes practically did not yield to discussion, this time his absence seemed logical. At 36 years old, the athlete is no longer able to play the third one in two days, in addition, Zelimkhan Bakaev earned a chance to prove himself. According to the results of the confrontation with Belgium, Spartak's midfielder became one of the few who did not deserve any complaints, so the choice in his favor was logical.
However, Cherchesov’s experiments came to an end on this. The rest of the composition was almost the same as in St. Petersburg, and the only exception was the appearance of Daler Kuzyaev from the first minutes. He replaced Roman Zobnin, but it is difficult to call it something fundamentally new. In the two years since the debut, the Zenit midfielder has 21 games for the national team, five of which are at the home world championship. Undoubtedly, in 2019, he did not appear in the application so often, but this is due to a meniscus injury.
Nevertheless, we can say that with this decision Cherchesov guessed right. Kuzyaev looked very active in the first half and, along with Bakaev, Petrov and Kudryashov, took part in most of the dangerous attacks of the guests. Suffice it to say that he was involved in the first two goals of the team. Daler twice struck coolly out of the penalty area, but if in the first case the ball was immediately in the net, then in the second it was necessary to finish the performance of the Krasnodar defender.
Petrov also left a good impression about himself and became one of the main characters. He took a great part in organizing attacks, stretched the opponent's defensive line and filed into the penalty area. As a result, two exact passes and three points on the “goal + pass” system. In the light of his successes and not the best form of Fernandez, we can safely say that against the “red devils” he would have looked no worse than the tired Mario.
But if his appearance looks quite understandable, then the presence in the starting lineup of the namesakes of Miranchuk and Ionov, as well as Ozdoev, raises serious questions. So, each of them had a grueling meeting with Belgium and deserved a vacation. To a greater extent, this concerns Magomed, who has almost nothing to blame for his defeat from the leader of the FIFA rating. The athlete fought for the ball in each episode and became the author of the hosts' most dangerous strike in the first half. Perhaps, leaving two Alekseev in the lineup, Cherchesov tried to cheer them up after the failure in St. Petersburg and give both of them the opportunity to feel the taste of the goal again. In the end, both scored, but whether it was so important for them is a big question.
The same applies to Jikia and Dziuba - both are indisputable base players and could easily take the day off. But, if Artyom was motivated by a desire to surpass the striking indicators of Beschastnykh and Kerzhakov, as a result of which he could insist on his inclusion in the composition, then George was in a different situation. A couple of Belyaev could well be Chistyakov, for whom this experience would be invaluable. So, Dmitry would have the opportunity not only to “smell the gunpowder” at the national team level, but also to attract the attention of Stanislav Salamovich. But the Spartak defender turned out to be the basis, which can only be explained by the specialist’s uncertainty in the experimental combination.
Apparently, he could well be right, because Russia had every chance to become the second team in 2017, which allowed San Marino to hit its own goal. In the second half, the hosts had two opportunities to distinguish themselves, and the second moment arose due to Belyaev's blunder. Maxim was mistaken in the performance of the transfer, and Jose Hirsch almost sent the ball for the collar to Shunin.
But the most unexpected was the choice of Cherchesov in terms of replacements. If the exit of Nikolai Komlichenko seemed logical, then the appearance on the field of Alexander Golovin and Roman Zobnin is difficult to explain. This is especially true of the Monaco midfielder, who missed a meeting with Belgium due to an injury, and before that he played on injections. Perhaps it would be more logical to save one of the leaders and give practice to the same Akhmetov or Erokhin.
A similar situation with Zobnin. This season, he is clearly below his level and resembles little of himself the example of the champion season of Spartak. Many experts attribute this to trauma and fatigue due to the lack of an alternative to the club. Nevertheless, over the past week, Roman spent 93 minutes on the field, while his potential substitute Daniil Fomin did not even get into the application. On the eve of the final matches of the Euro 2020 qualification, the media widely discussed the decision of the head coach to attract the Ufa midfielder to the team, but in the end he did not get a chance to demonstrate his skill. The same applies to the Lokomotiv winger Rifat Zhemaletdinov, who did not get out of the reserve.
As for Komlichenko, with his successes for Mlada Boleslav, he earned the right to try himself in the first team of the country. The surprise was caused only by the fact that he stepped in a pair, and not to replace Jube. Two powerful forwards were immediately on the edge, one of which was constantly forced to either shift to the flank or sink to the center. Perhaps Cherchesov tried to simulate the tactical model of the “Zenith”, but Nikolai is not able to compete with Azmun in speed qualities. Yes, he scored a goal and had every chance to make a hat-trick, but the responsibility for this lies with the defenders of the opponent.
Thus, the match with the team of San Marino gave reason to believe that the Russian team may refrain from serious experiments in anticipation of the 2020 European Championship. In the future, the team is waiting for purposeful preparation for the tournament, during which Cherchesov will surely play schemes and hone interactions between the players. The final qualification meeting was the last chance to have a talent show, but turned into a speech by the current leaders and yesterday's reservists.