Stanislav Cherchesov’s team played the penultimate match in the selection of the European Championship against Belgium. The meeting in St. Petersburg was supposed to be a test of strength for the Russian national team. In the end, however, she identified the same set of problems as before. The lack of additional reserves in the event of the loss of one of the leaders of the starting lineup largely predetermined the outcome of the match at Gazprom-Arena. 1-4 at home and 2-7 on aggregate with the Red Devils is a sad but logical result of the Russian team’s qualifying campaign in the European qualifiers. Nevertheless, with 21 points after nine rounds, Russia will definitely take second place in Group I and will go to the draw in Bucharest on November 30. The weekly Football tells about the reasons for the crushing defeat of the main team of the country and further prospects in the final stage of Euro 2020.

Dziuba’s lack of alternative

The head coach of the Russian national team Stanislav Cherchesov put up a slightly modified version of the traditional version with Artem Dzyuba in the attack for the game with Belgium. Lokomotiv midfielder Alexei Miranchuk joined the 31-year-old Zenit striker.

One of the leaders of the “railroad” has a bright autumn segment, having recently scored two goals in matches with Juventus in the Champions League. Taking into account the injured Alexander Golovin, the choice of the coaching staff was practically uncontested.

It should be noted here that the relatively small talent pool of the national team played one of the key roles in the games against national teams clearly ahead of our team in terms of status and current place in the FIFA rating. The Dzyuba-Golovin connection is considered to be the backbone of the national team.

The fact that Artyom continues to be in the list of the top scorers of the qualification according to the “goal + pass” system (14 points, 9 goals) plays an important role in the factor of mutual understanding with the Monaco midfielder.

When one of these two players is not in the starting lineup, the team begins to experience serious difficulties. Dziuba is indispensable in power struggle in someone else’s goalkeeper’s, pushing the defense of opponents as much as possible.

In turn, the absence of Golovin is even more problematic for the coaching staff. Alexander, with his vision of the pitch and sharp decision-making, is a key figure in midfield. In the match of the ninth round of qualification against Belgium, one of these circumstances happened. As a result, the national team showed, to put it mildly, not the result that the fans expected from it.

One hit for the whole game from Dziuba. And that happened in the 55th minute of the meeting and was blocked. The Zenit striker tried to be active on the approaches to the penalty area Thibaut Courtois, but did not bring any special problems to the Real Madrid goalkeeper, having noted only a lunge at the start of the game after a pass from the flank of Yuri Zhirkov.

As a result, the referee of the match, Portuguese Arthur Dias, committed a foul in the attack against the defender of the Belgians – this was the end of the attacking accomplishments of the striker at his home stadium. Oleksiy Miranchuk tried to add agility to the general movement, but so far he can not objectively show the game that he demonstrates with his younger brother in games for Loko.

Minus Golovin and Cheryshev

The lack of alternatives to the leaders on the bench may not affect the games against teams inferior in the class of the Russian team, but it does not work in matches with the top teams. So it was in the current qualification, so it was before.

In the League of Nations, the Swedes were ahead of us, allowing us to score only one point in face-to-face meetings (0: 0 at home and 0: 2 away). And at the home world championship, where Russia reached the quarterfinals, a little earlier, in the group stage there was Uruguay with Cavani and Suarez in attack, which smashed us 3: 0. Even with the Spaniards in 1/8, if not for a coincidence (a penalty kicked off by Akinfeev) – and not for the Russian team in the next stage of the tournament.

The game with the Belgians was regarded by many as an exam for the renewed team. Renewed primarily in terms of inner self-awareness. One of the most successful qualifying tournaments in the history of the national team was spoiled by Belgium, beating Cherchesov’s team in the first round (3: 1).

After that, there were seven victories with a total difference of goals scored and conceded + 24. It seems that inner confidence appeared, and Dziuba is in the list of top scorers with nine goals … However, the Belgians, led by the Azar brothers, again lowered us to the ground, showing the real balance of power for today.

If Dziuba’s lack of alternatives in attack can be explained by the rate of Cherchesov (the absence of the top scorer of the RPL last season, Fedor Chalov, in the application proves this once again), then the synchronous injuries of Barinov, Golovin and Cheryshev turned out to be more noticeable.

Without Loko’s tenacious defensive midfielder and Monaco’s playmaker, the center of the field not only experienced problems when going into the attack, where the Azar brothers, together with De Bruyne, were pressing with their mobility, but also failed in defense, where Ozdoev and Kuzyaev could not cope with the center of the Red Devils “. The absence of the flank half of “Valencia” Denis Cheryshev directly affected the movement of the edges of the midfield of the Russian team.

In this regard, an indicative moment was the third goal of the Belgians, scored with a total failure of the Russians’ center line. A couple of minutes before this, Stanislav Cherchesov’s team managed to organize several attacks to the gate of Courtois, but the mistake of Semenov and Djikia at once canceled out all attacking undertakings.

Lukaku pushed Andrey first in the fight for a rebound, and then forced the Akhmat defender to unsuccessfully drop the ball to the center of Spartak, where Mertens was already waiting for him. As a result, the creeping long pass of the Napoli striker brought Kevin de Bruyne to a rendezvous with Marinato Guilherme. The four-in-one turn out to be fatal – Russia lost even the theoretical chances of further continuation of the struggle.

Old-new problem

Throughout the entire qualifying cycle (with the exception of the first match with Belgium), it seemed that Cherchesov was able to squeeze the maximum out of the minimum that the national team had in the defensive line. 1: 3 in the first round did not inspire much optimism in the fans, but the subsequent victories in the matches with Scotland and Kazakhstan allowed the claims against the main pair of central defenders Dzhikia-Semenov to be relegated to the background.

However, the Belgians, and first of all Eden Hazard, again, as in the March match at the stadium of the King of Baudouin, ran away on unattainable high-speed dribbling from Russian defenders, whether it was 36-year-old (!) Yuri Zhirkov on the flank or Andrei Semenov in center.

This time there were no penalties, nevertheless, the Real Madrid midfielder took part in all the assists combinations of the Red Devils, having scored two goals and an assist against Thorgan’s brother in the case of Guilherme’s first goal.

Stanislav Cherchesov chose a scheme with three central defenders with Petrov and Semyonov at the edges and Djikia in the center. The 5 + 3 + 2 formation was supposed to not give the Belgians any freedom of action in the attack, adding movement along the flanks of the front line of the Russian team.

In fact, three of the four goals of the “red devils” (with the exception of Azar’s first goal) came from the zone of responsibility of the full-backs Zhirkov and Fernandez when returning from the opposite half of the field.

However, the three central defenders have repeatedly allowed Lukaku & Co. to win the top fight and control the ball rebound within the goalkeeper’s zone, where De Bruyne or Hazard who connected from the depths waited for their chances.

In turn, goalkeeper Marinato Guilherme did not have time to clean up the oversights of the defense. Recently, the naturalized Brazilian has ceased to show a stable game even in matches for Lokomotiv, as demonstrated by the recent meeting with Juventus in the Champions League.

Failed to cope with the task of Marinato and in the game for the national team in St. Petersburg. The 33-year-old goalkeeper could have rescued the team at least twice after the strikes of Eden Azar (0: 2) and Romelu Lukaku (0: 4). If in the first case the Russian Brazilian did not manage to form in time, then in the second he already folded after a not very strong shot from the forward of “Inter” into the near corner.

Despite two defeats to the Belgian national team, Russia secured itself in advance in the final stage of the European Championship. 21 points after nine rounds guarantees Stanislav Cherchesov’s team participation in the draw for the upcoming championship, which will be held on November 30 in Bucharest. Directly on the outcome of the match at Gazprom-Arena depended, perhaps, the number of the final basket.

After the second defeat in the qualifying round, Russia will probably go to the second seeding group, where it is more likely to get one of the top European teams in the Euro-quartet. And you will definitely not have to rely on the “passing” group, as it was before Euro 2012. And taking into account the current personnel issues, any draw will automatically become a strength test for Stanislav Cherchesov’s team.

European Championship 2020. Qualification. Group I
RUSSIA – BELGIUM – 1: 4 (0: 3).
St. Petersburg. November 16.
Stadium: Gazprom Arena. 53 317 spectators.
Judge: Arthur Soares Dias (Portugal).
Russia:  Guilherme, Fernandez, Semenov, Dzhikia, Petrov, Zhirkov (Bakaev, 51), Zobnin (Kuzyaev, 62), Ozdoev, Ionov, Al. Miranchuk, Dzyuba (Komlichenko, 80).
Belgium:  Courtois, Vermaelen (Denayer, 67), Boyata, Alderweireld, T. Hazard, Witzel, de Bruyne, Castagne, Ed. Azar, Mertens (Thielemans, 52), Lukaku (Batshuayi, 77).
Goals:  0: 1 – T. Hazard (19), 0: 2 – Ed. Azar (33), 0: 3 – Ed. Azar (40), 0: 4 – Lukaku (72), 1: 4 – Jikia (79).
Warning:  Petrov (3).

9 (3)  shots (on target)  10 (8)
11  fouls  11
 corners  1
 offside  0
56  % possession  44