ISL 0-2 RUS: Russia Win and a Few Things Learned
Russia powered past a weak Iceland team today in what was their first match of 2013 and warmup for the World Cup qualifiers in March. Fabio Capello stated his team were not entirely fit but despite that, playing at a neutral venue in Spain, the team looked cool and calm as both goals were scored from neat buildup plays. Roman Shirokov opened the scoring account after a short interchange with Vladimir Bystrov. The lineup was largely recognizable but Oleg Shatov’s goal after the break meant that for the second straight match, a debutant has scored for Russia. The Russian press say this is a sign of a positive atmosphere in the national team.
There is not much to analyze from this match since it was only a friendly but it does provoke some thoughts:
Fabio Capello is bringing back the 4-5-1 formation
Russia have historically favored a packed midfield with an isolated forward up front. Guus Hiddink changed that and introduced a 4-1-3-2 which worked extremely well at Euro 2008. Dick Advocaat brought back the 4-5-1 in a limited capacity but it closely mirrored a 4-3-3. Now we see Fabio Capello is going back to a formation at suits Russia’s strengths.
Oleg Shatov may be the first choice right-back
Shatov who plies his trade for FC Anzhi Makhachkala made his debut for the national team and did so in style. He replaced the first choice right-back Aleksandr Anyukov in the 47th minute and from that point on lit up the right flank. It looks like Anyukov could be facing some very stiff competition.
Roman Shirokov could permanently replace Andrei Arshavin
Since the Euro 2012 debacle and omission of Arshavin, Roman Shirokov has taken his place of the primary playmaker in the team. His goal today marks his fourth in the last five months and it is hard to see Arshavin coming back.
Yuri Zhirkov will go back to being a midfielder
Just prior to Euro 2008, Yuri Zhirkov was converted from a leftwinger to a leftback. He has occupied the left flank of the back line quite superbly, but since Fabio Capello favors using Andrei Yeschenko in either of the fullback positions. It is possible Zhirkov could return to his backline role but it looks like he is taking up his advanced position again.
Russia will be playing Northern Ireland on 22 March 2013.
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