The Russian national football team defeated the Slovenian national team in the qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup. The meeting at the Fisht Olympic stadium in Sochi ended with a score of 2: 1, and Artyom Dzyuba became its main character. The Zenit forward scored the 28th and 29th goals for the main team of the country and came close to the record holder Alexander Kerzhakov. For the guests, the tactics of Stanislav Cherchesov with three central defenders and the rebuilding in the center of the field after the game in Malta became a revelation.
In addition, the team of Matjaz Kek outlined the high level and ambitious claims for the tournament, and then confirmed it in the starting round. The hosts of Stozice Arena in Ljubljana shocked their Croatian neighbors, backing up Sandy Lovric’s only accurate shot of the evening with perfect defense. The victory over the vice-champions of the world did not look like an accident, but the result of systematic work and careful preparation for a specific opponent.
Accordingly, domestic fans and specialists had fair fears that in the south of Russia the Slovenes would play just as pragmatically, preparing a number of unpleasant tactical surprises for their opponents.
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Cherchesov, judging by the initial tactical alignment, reasoned in a similar vein. Therefore, he put up three central defenders, adding Fedor Kudryashov to Egor Semyonov and Georgy Dzhikia, and appointed Magomed Ozdoev to the position of the defensive midfielder – “breakwater”. In addition, the Russians saturated the center by creating a triangle of Daler Kuzyaev, Alexander Golovin and Rifat Zhemaletdinov.
In theory, this deprived guests of free space between the lines for transmissions and bursts. It also gave the team good chances for explosive counterattacks after interceptions. Especially if Artyom Dziuba, who always cleverly clung to the ball, found ways to pull together the namesakes Miha Mevlu and Miha Blazic – and made discounts on partners under attack at a second pace in the central defense zones of the Slovenes that were freed from custody.
The coaching idea justified itself in full: by the 36th minute, the main team of the country not only implemented all the introductory ones, but even exceeded the plan. The density in the center eliminated the movement of guests, freeing up space for the hosts on the flanks. From there, Mario Fernandez and Yuri Zhirkov periodically sent crosses into the penalty area, where every now and then there were half-moments.
True, the Russians lacked accuracy in the final stage. And the Cloud kept the level. The minimal gaps between the lines in their own half made it difficult to come up with something worthwhile for Ilicic, which is why the guests’ forays to the gates of Anton Shunin ended in harmless strikes from outside the penalty area.
At the start of the match, Dziuba played the role of a “pillar”, focusing the attention of the guests’ central defenders on himself and fighting for riding balls. But by the middle of the half, Artyom revealed the weaknesses of his opponents in the power struggle – and in less than ten minutes he made a game, crushing the competitors.
In the 26th minute, he won the upper hand over the Slovenian tandem after a ricochet when serving from the left flank, successfully threw Kuzyaeva into the area of the 11-meter mark and he himself made a forward movement under the return pass. The link between Mevli and Blazhich collapsed under the pressure of Dziuba, thanks to which the captain of the national team kissed the ball heartily and forced the Clouds to capitulate.
And after another nine minutes, Artyom was the first to rebound after Golovin’s long-range strike on the crossbar – and again hit the Slovenian goal.
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Over the previous year and a half, the Slovenes conceded only the ball, having played eight matches “dry”. In Sochi, just before the break, the Russians surpassed the Greeks, Croats, and Kosovars combined. But the Moldovans and Azerbaijanis, and the representatives of San Marino also fought over the task.
In all this splendor, Cherchesov was upset only by an optional goal conceded in the 36th minute. The long distance cast of the Cloud did not bode well for the Russians, since Semyonov confidently won the “air”, as, indeed, almost all horse duels of the evening. But an unsuccessful rebound on the leg of Mikhe Zaitsu, followed by a vertical transfer, brought Ilicic to the striking position. Josip from 18 yards performed the kick masterfully, trying to start the match on a new round of intrigue.
However, if any tension emanated from the guests, it was generated exclusively by the Atalanta player. With the release of Alexei Miranchuk and Vyacheslav Karavaev, the Russians gradually “de-energized” the leader of the competitors. Maybe one and a half approaches to the other’s goal in a total of 45 minutes Matjaz Kek’s team played enough, but one hundred percent chances to restore an equal score did not follow from them.
Is that in the 78th minute, the selfless play of Mario Fernandez and Semyonov ensured a blocking of the blow from within the penalty area. But such situations, even according to the system of expected goals, do not knock out much. In addition, the Russians’ safety net demonstrated European coherence throughout the meeting.
As for their own visits to other people’s gates, the owners deliberately refused them after the break. On the one hand, Cherchesov deliberately split the match into fragments and slowed down the pace so as not to miss a counterattack. On the other hand, the Russians competently played by the score, starting from the opponent’s initiatives and blocking all priority paths to the offensive. This cannot be called a traditional “bus” – rather, weighted pragmatism, in which the middle, then the low block of destruction nullified all the initiatives of the Balkans.
Not bright and not spectacular, but thanks to these adjustments, the main team of the country took six points out of six possible at the start of the selection for the Qatari World Cup. At the same time, she allowed Maksim Mukhin to make his debut in the squad, correctly distributed the playing load among the players in a tight schedule and retained a positive attitude. In this state, it is much easier and more pleasant to prepare for the next game, which will be held on Tuesday. The rivals of the Cherchesov team at the Anton Malatinsky Stadium in Trnava will be the team of Slovakia.
Source site russian.rt.com