The Russian national football team on Tuesday, March 21, went to Tehran for a friendly match with the Iranian team. The last days before departure, the team was engaged in Novogorsk.
Athletes began to arrive at the base of the Moscow "Dynamo" at the weekend, immediately after the meetings of the 20th round of the RPL, and on Monday they already trained in full. This day was not without surprises. Early in the morning, the players were visited by doping officers and four players were tested, including Spartak striker Alexander Sobolev.
"Everyone was picked up at five in the morning: me, Dima Barinov and Serega Pesyakov. Well, nothing, it happens. Was there a desire to answer that I wanted to sleep? Yes. But we don't have to choose. This is a normal procedure. And after the games in the club there are doping checks, and they often come to the national team. We are used to it," the forward said in an interview with Match TV.
Everyone was surprised by such an unusual visit. Even the head coach of the team Valery Karpin. According to him, so early they have not yet come to them for testing.
"Honestly, I was sleeping at the time. I can't reveal any details. At 4 a.m. or 4:40 a.m., we arrived. In this life, a lot of abnormal things are happening, "the specialist noted.
However, this did not affect the mood of the team. Everyone was in a good mood: Karpin showed the players memes with his participation, and also scolded Sobolev for being overweight.
"Are you there, I hope, gaining muscle mass? To better push?", – joked the specialist.
Alas, on Tuesday it became known about another loss in the Russian national team. Sochi defender Artem Makarchuk left the team. He was diagnosed with a viral infection, and the footballer returned to the club. Thus, only 25 players out of 29 called up are preparing for friendly matches. Earlier, Alexei Miranchuk, Alexander Golovin and Georgy Dzhikiya were injured. Moreover, according to Karpin, the legionnaires even in this state wanted to come to Novogorsk.
"I talked to them, they still got ready for the team, even injured. I told them, it doesn't make sense. Fly across the floor of Europe so that we can look at them, have another MRI and see the injury – why? We received all the medical documents from Monaco and Torino. But they wanted to come, just to see each other. Their simultaneous injuries are a coincidence," Karpin said.
However, much more the game of the Russians will be affected by the absence of Georgy Djikia. Unlike Golovin and Miranchuk, who have missed the last few training camps, he took the field in friendly matches. Now there are only two nominal central defenders in the team's application: Maxim Osipenko and Alexander Soldatenkov. And that means the coaching staff needs to recruit someone else for the position. According to Karpin, he has three candidates: Alexander Silyanov, Ruslan Litvinov and Barinov.
At the same time, according to the expert, it is quite logical that it was Spartak that became the base club of the national team, since Muscovites are fighting for medals of the national championship, and the backbone of the team consists of domestic players. In addition, there were matches when eleven Russians came out on the field for the red and white from the first minutes.
There could have been more representatives of Spartak in the national team. But Roman Zobnin asked him not to bother him yet. He wants to concentrate on playing for the club.
"We agreed: as long as there is no need and games for the result, then I will not call him. He asked me to do it himself. Zobnin plays all the matches in Spartak? At the age of 33, I also did not miss a minute at Real Sociedad, but I asked not to be called up to the national team, because I had to recover. Roma has health problems," Karpin said.
The specialist also explained his decision in the attack to stop at the trio of Nikolai Komlichenko, Alexander Sobolev and Konstantin Tyukavin. According to Karpin, these forwards put more pressure up front than, for example, Vladimir Pisarsky.
"One player is enough for martial arts. And goals, or lack thereof, are statistics. Sobolev, in my opinion, did not score a single one after the resumption of the season. Who is to blame for the referees not counting his clean goals? And if he had two goals, there would be no questions," the coach added.
Karpin also named the condition under which Artem Dzyuba, who began to prove himself in Lokomotiv, can return to the national team.
"Until we are banned, no one over the age of 30 has a chance to be called. After returning to the official matches, we will invite everyone. Just like before," valery Georgievich said.
In the goalkeeping line in the next matches it is planned to test Alexander Selikhov and Matvey Safonov, if he is healthy. At the same time, coach Vitaly Kafanov, who chooses goalkeepers, unlike Karpin, does not limit himself to his age.
"It's a position where you don't have to look at it. At the last World Cup, the average age of goalkeepers was 31 years, at the European Championship - 29.5 years. They have a different road and life, they mature later, "the specialist explained.
Kafanov also noted the progress of Ilya Pomazun, who made the right choice, leaving the CSKA bench.
"It is clear that in the same club with Akinfeev it is difficult to win the competition. Ilya started playing, the first season was not so smooth, the second is better, this one started very well. His game is improving, it's natural. Ilya is very thoughtful and serious, he is really progressing.
I can say for sure that our goalkeeping school has become stronger over the past five years. We have no foreigners left, not because we do not take them, but because they are not stronger than ours. Any team now has at least two good goalkeepers, or even three. I'm very happy about that," the coach admitted.
Of course, questions were also asked about the opponents of the national team. So, speaking about the peculiarities of preparation for the upcoming matches, Karpin drew attention to the fact that their status remains friendly, so there are no thoughts of revenge after unsuccessful meetings with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The confrontation with Iran is just good sparring to make new connections, but the players will act without fanaticism so as not to get injured.
"Of course, no matter who the opponent is, you always want to win. Yes, let's test ourselves with the World Cup team. At any training camp, everyone wants to play with strong opponents. But points are not given for this. Any coach at the training camp tries, looks, the result is not at the forefront, "said Karpin.
Moreover, the coach is well aware that in the event of a defeat, criticism will fall on the team and even talk of dismissal. But it doesn't scare him.
"If someone decides to dismiss me, thank goodness. Do you think anyone is holding on to this place? And there is always discontent after a loss. This is normal," Karpin admitted.
As for participation in the first CAFA championship, there are many nuances in this matter, according to the expert. Valery Georgievich, for example, does not really like the dates of the tournament, since they fall on the vacation of football players, as well as on the final of the Russian Cup, which means that not all players can be used. But there is one more point: the weather in Uzbekistan in June.
"Is it necessary to play at a temperature of +40? On the one hand, yes. But the pitches we played on... It has not yet been confirmed where this will happen. However, in Bishkek, do you remember what kind of lawn? If it's still dry and hot... It's murder. Here we need to think," Karpin said.
At the same time, he does not see anything wrong in matches with teams from Asia, because the national team in any case needs to play with someone to show that it is still alive.
The players themselves like the idea of participating in the CAFA championship. According to CSKA midfielder Ivan Oblyakov, such meetings will be more interesting for both spectators and athletes.
"Probably, to hold a tournament with official games is more pleasant than just sparring. Every athlete goes out to win. It doesn't matter who you oppose. We are not determined to lose to Spain. Therefore, it is difficult to say who is easier or more difficult to fight on the field," Oblyakov admitted.
Zenit defender Vyacheslav Karavaev is not afraid to be left without a vacation. "If necessary, we will play. The most important thing is to have good opponents," the footballer said.