Karpin's unexpected choice
After the announcement of the final application of the Russian national team for the March friendly matches, it became clear that Valery Karpin would devote them to experiments. And expectations were not disappointed. Although most of the debutants of the national team did not appear on the field of the Azadi Arena, the selection of performers was unusual. Ruslan Litvinov found himself in the centre of defence, although he has never been in this role at Spartak since November. Arsen Zakharyan took his place on the right flank of the attack, and Anton Zinkovskyy - on the left, while Anton Miranchuk came out in the midfield - next to Daler Kuzyaev and Daniil Glebov.
In general, the appearance of the Lokomotiv midfielder on the field did not cause any questions. Over the past week, he first failed to meet Acron in the Russian Cup, and then played indistinctly with Krasnodar and in both cases went to the bench at halftime. Despite this, the mentor trusted the experienced athlete, but not to say that he justified the trust. Yes, even though it was Miranchuk who converted the penalty in the 28th minute, otherwise he looked extremely inexpressive. Anton often made the wrong decisions, delayed attacks and made a lot of mistakes. Suffice it to recall how at first he did not immediately shoot after a pass from the flank, and when he still decided to check the vigilance of Alireza Beiranvand, he slipped and blocked the blow.
As for his namesake, he was a bright spot in the visitors' lineup. Although his inclusion in the start also raised questions against the background of his failure in the game with Orenburg. But in the debut meeting for the national team, Zinkovsky looked great and impressed not only with his speed and dribbling, but also with non-standard solutions. In the first half hour, the main danger emanated from him, and most of the combinations originated on the left flank, where he operated in tandem with teammate Daniil Khlusevich. And symbolically, he provoked a foul by Said Ezzatollahi in his own penalty area and gave Miranchuk the opportunity to get to the point.
Loss of initiative
At the end of the meeting, Karpin himself admitted that if before the goal he was completely satisfied with the game of the wards, then after him everything changed exactly the opposite. And indeed, until the 28th minute, the Russians actively pressed and sometimes created serious difficulties for the participant of the last World Cup in Qatar. At times, the Iranians were forced to simply move the ball away in order to avoid losses dangerously close to the goal. However, like their opponents, at times extremely frantically coming out of pressure.
But with the score at 1-0, everything changed. Either the Iranians got nervous or the Russians got nervous, but in the remaining quarter of an hour the hosts created more than in the previous 30 minutes. Up front, nothing was possible, and one mistake after another poured in the defense. Ruslan Litvinov and Maxim Osipenko regularly lost to the "air", and the same Zinkovsky and Daniil Glebov sinned with inaccurate passes. Within a few minutes, the Rostov midfielder twice faltered under pressure and at first just gave out, and then rolled so uncomfortably at Litvinov that he was almost covered by the opponent. As a result, by the end of the first half, Amir Galenoi's team had an almost three-fold advantage in shots (11: 4) and fully owned the initiative.
Ghosts of Rostov
The beginning of the second half turned out to be a complete failure for Russia. Already at the 40th second, Litvinov for some reason stepped on the foot of Mohammad Mohebi, who was coming out of the box, and brought a penalty. Mehdi Taremi did not reinvent the wheel and struck in exactly the same way as Miranchuk - low and slightly to the right of the alignment. Matvey Safonov could not help out.
On paper, the conceded goal should have liberated Karpin's charges, but in reality everything turned out differently. At times, it seemed that they were again experiencing that very meeting with Croatia in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. But if then they played the whole match on the rebound and defended with the whole squad, this time they focused on rolling the ball at their own goal.
Of course, in modern football, getting out of defense through a short pass is, if not a key, then an important skill that all self-respecting top teams possess. But if it helps them to create a numerical advantage in various parts of the field and thereby move the ball forward, then the Russian team could not achieve this. Time after time, the two-move Litvinov-Osipenko ended with either the connection of Safonov or a pass, potentially creating more problems for the domestic team itself than for its opponents.
So, in one of the episodes, Osipenko, who did not have worthy recipients, found nothing better than to give glebov, who looked bad throughout the match, who had an Iranian "hanging" on his back. He hurriedly to return the ball to his teammate, but only provoked a dangerous attack by the hosts, which ended with an inaccurate strike by the same Taremi. A few minutes earlier, Safonov had made a mistake in a similar situation.
And although each subsequent attempt led to even greater problems, the Russian national team continued to stubbornly step on the same rake. And here associations with Karpin's Rostov come to mind, during the current season he repeatedly suffered from the desire to imitate trendsetters in football. A recent example is the recent checkmate with Paris NN, where a draw at its own penalty box almost cost the team three points.
All this led to the fact that the Russian team failed in the second half and in 45 minutes made only one shot on goal, while the opponent again "shot" 11 times. In the end, Iran even organized a full-fledged bulk and could have snatched victory, but missed excellent chances. The same Taremi could have scored a hat-trick, Mohebi had a great chance, but they were let down by the implementation.
And although the hosts dominated the field throughout the period, Karpin made the first substitution only in the 69th minute, when he released Ivan Oblyakov instead of Zakharyan, who also performed rather poorly. And four more were spent shortly before the end of regular time. Although it has long been clear that Miranchuk is not coping with his tasks, and Mykola Komlichenko, who has come to the fore, cannot impose a struggle on the central defenders.
As a result, a certain dissonance arose. On the one hand, the head coach did not start all the strongest and clearly left the field for experiments, on the other hand, he delayed the reshuffles to the last and did not leave spare time to prove themselves. If Konstantin Tyukavin and Daniil Fomin spent at least 17 minutes on the field, then Ilzat Akhmetov, Alexander Silyanov and Danil Prutsev - less than ten.
Thus, the Russian national team for the first time since September 24, 2022 hit the opponent's goal and drew with a participant of the World Cup in Qatar, but its performance hardly left a positive impression. Despite the good result, the game of Karpin's team again left serious questions. But if there were hardly any questions about dedication this time (the same Daler Kuzyaev as a whole performed a huge amount of work), then the lack of a clear plan for the match and the mechanism for getting out of defense are alarming. But if this time the failure can be explained by the high level of the enemy, then in the upcoming meeting with Iraq it will be impossible to do this.