“Young CSKA football players have reached their ceiling”

- CSKA in the last four rounds of the RPL scored ten points. Is this a consequence of the team’s emotional shake-up, or did the coaching staff change something in the army game?

- Perhaps, after the return of Viktor Goncharenko, the guys calmed down to some extent. It is very difficult to judge, being outside the team. Honestly, in the game CSKA I did not see anything new. But in this situation, it is not entirely correct to compare the actions of red-blue in recent matches with what we saw in the same game with Zenit. There is a big difference between Petersburgers and the rest of the RPL teams.

And CSKA players, being in fifth place, I think, relaxed somewhat. You understand that every point is important for getting into the Champions League. Young players psychologically do not always withstand such pressure. The departure of the coach liberated them, and they themselves talk about it. Now CSKA enjoys football.  

- Nicola Vlašić and Fyodor Chalov scored excellent form in recent games. What prevented them from showing such a football before and gaining points for performance?

- Chalov scored in three games in a row, but his goals were in nine days. But now everyone says that he is in great shape. I think Fedor remained in those conditions in which he was. He just did not realize his moments. For example, in a match with Akhmat, the defender waved the ball past and the striker scored.

- Which CSKA is real: the one that could not win seven matches in a row or the current one, not inferior in four matches?

- I think the army team are playing the same way as at the beginning of the season. And I can’t call the team’s football unprincipled. It was just that they were given great goals, and now it has broken through. But in fact, nothing has changed. And this season is difficult for everyone: incomprehensible, with long interruptions, with a coronavirus pandemic. And the fact that the red and blue, despite all this, continue to fight for medals, does them honor. This is not to say that CSKA is throwing from side to side or the team has become worse.

But as I said last year, I say so in this: CSKA, in order to qualify for the championship, lacks two or three good experienced performers. And the young players of the team stopped in development. But the point here is not Goncharenko, as some say, but that they have reached their ceiling. In my opinion, few army youth are able to add more in the future.

- Misfire in the match with Rubin can emotionally break Goncharenko’s wards? After all, now they understand that there are practically no chances to get into the Champions League.

“Why should she break them down?” And why are you asking about the loss of points in the match against Rubin? After all, CSKA allowed misfires before. CSKA did not win for seven months. I think all this is stupid. Psychologically, football players must be very stable. There are experienced players in the teams who monitor the moral state of the partners. I am sure that the loss of points in the game with Rubin will not affect CSKA for the better or for the worse.

- The fateful tackle of Ivan Oblyakov in his own free kick in the match against Kazan - a young player’s mistake or a technical marriage and fatigue?

- Experience has nothing to do with it. How can it be so spread in a tackle in your own penalty !? Such episodes in my time were sorted out in youth schools. Unfortunately, now there is a different level of training, and people, speaking in the Premier League, sometimes make stupid mistakes. Oblyakov himself must be asked why he went to that tackle.

- Ragnar Sigurdson will miss the game with Lokomotiv due to busting cards. Is it worth it to give an experienced Alan Dzagoev a chance in the most important game, who finally recovered from his injury?  

- If he is ready to play, then why not. Alan's experience should help CSKA. Plus, he is able to give the last transfer, which the army team lacks. Coaches have to decide. If Dzagoev is not ready for all 90 minutes, he can be released for a replacement, as in the game with Ruby.

- Should we expect high pressure from CSKA, which the team used earlier, or will the army team play more carefully?

- It is quite possible a mixed version, in which the red-blue will try to pressure the opponent high in the first 5-10 minutes. If possible, the army team will continue to do this. Plus, we are well aware that football players in their current state are not able to put high pressure over all 90 minutes.

“With the departure of Semin, Lokomotiv lost its edge”

- Lokomotiv ended the last four meetings in the Russian Championship in a draw. What are the reasons for this?

- It was striking that the team is being rebuilt on the go. Now the railroad are conducting a lot of slow positional attacks. They lack speed, and the rivals have time to rebuild. We saw this both in the match with Ufa and in the duel with Wings of the Soviets. Lokomotiv was obliged to take six points, but scored only two. With the departure of Yuri Syomin, the team lost its edge.

- What has changed in the game red-green with the advent of Marco Nikolic?

- Lokomotiv controls the ball more. Railway workers carry out many transfers, transferring attacks from one flank to another. They also make a large number of cross passes and gears back. Under Semin, Lokomotiv owned the ball less, but performed more forward transfers, medium and long. And now there is control, but there are no moments.

- What is the reason for this?  

- If everything was so simple, everyone would know how to play football. Several factors can influence the situation at once. So far we see that Lokomotiv wants to control the ball more and achieves this, but the sharpness has become less.

- But after all, Alexei Miranchuk brilliantly began the season. His brother Anton returned to duty. And the club never bought a new striker ...

- This is a very good question. I would like to hear an answer to it from Nikolic. But while we often hear the general directors of clubs, rather than coaches.

- In the match with Ufa, Jefferson Farfan, who missed more than a year due to injury, returned to action. Can he become a "locomotive" joker in a derby?

- We know that the Peruvian is a hammered player. He brought a lot of points to the railwaymen in the champion season. Jefferson is a penalty area footballer with excellent scoring flair. It's great that he finally recovered. It is unlikely that Farfan is ready for all 90 minutes, but he is able to help the team in a certain segment.

- Will CSKA be more relaxed in a game with Lokomotiv CSKA? After all, the team has nothing to lose. If the red-blue take medals, it will be a miracle. If it does not succeed, nobody will criticize them strongly.

- This is a Moscow derby. On Thursday, CSKA and Lokomotiv will compete for medals and a place in the Champions League. I don’t think that one of the teams will be more relaxed and liberated.

- Do you think the army team can still take medals, despite the backlog from Lokomotiv and Krasnodar?

- As long as the team retains at least theoretical chances of getting into the top three, everything is possible. At the end of the season, only Zenit can relax. Yes, and I can’t say that after the resumption of the championship, some team, in addition to Petersburgers, greatly increased and reached the level that was before the pandemic. So now I would not want to sing praises to anyone. The same CSKA could win against Rubin, but in the end missed from the penalty spot. Everything goes on thin.

- That is, at the finish of the season, none of the teams applying for medals has an advantage?

- Everyone has a very difficult time. Coaches make a large number of substitutions, but it’s hard for players to play in such a schedule. But some offer to expand the RPL to 18 teams. Once again we are convinced that it is a lot. People simply will not be able to enter the field two days later on the third. We will see players crawling on the lawn.

- “Lokomotiv” in a derby would not be more logical to play the second number?

- In my opinion, this will not be discussed. Railroad workers will think not only about CSKA, but also about Krasnodar, which has a game in stock. But at stake is a direct ticket to the group stage of the Champions League and a lot of money. Lokomotiv is well aware that there is no longer any chance of a mistake.

- That is, fans can wait for a double-edged game?

- When both teams need a victory, this does not mean that they will go forward from the first minutes. Rivals can also act on defense, waiting for their chance ahead, relying on standard positions. Such important and crucial matches are rarely spectacular. CSKA does not have such a composition to act brightly. Yes, and “Locomotive” prefers to play “second number”. Recent matches have shown that railroad workers are better at quick attacks than positional ones.

It seems to me that in the first minutes the teams will not be revealed. But any goal scored can change everything. In this case, the team that skips first will be forced to go forward. And here everything is already possible.