Single player teams. Which group did the Russian national team fall into at Euro 2020?
Despite the fact that there is still a week of waiting before the official draw in Bucharest, the composition of Group B, in which Stanislav Cherchesov’s team will hold the European Championship matches, has already been formed by 75 percent. Due to the new formation of the continental championship, two of the three possible rivals of the Russian team became known. The national team has already played with one of these teams in qualifying and played two matches with similar scenarios, having suffered major defeats in both meetings (1: 3 and 1: 4). In addition to the Belgians, we will definitely face a confrontation with the Danes. But the third rival is still unknown. Someone from the Finland / Wales pair will join the aforementioned three, finally complementing the composition of Quartet B, which has already become one of the most difficult in the final stage of Euro 2020.
The weekly “Football” analyzed what, and most importantly, whom the Russian national team should be afraid of at the upcoming tournament.
The draw in Bucharest, which has not yet officially begun, has become one of the most controversial in the history of major tournaments even before the start. At none of the World or European Championships, the group formation procedure did not determine almost one hundred percent the composition of one of the quartets a week before the ceremony.
However, the upcoming event, which will take place in the Romeexpo building on November 30, has already identified two top European teams as rivals for the Russian national team. But it is not yet known who will fall into group B from the fourth basket.
The location of the ceremony, it seems, fully justifies its main purpose. Initially, the arena was built for the performances of Romanian pop stars, and in the event of a football draw, it will give the audience an unforgettable show.
Due to the twentieth anniversary of the European Championship, UEFA changed the selection rules for the European Championships this year, adding to the usual first places of qualifying groups of qualifying the opportunity to get to Euro through a new tournament – the League of Nations.
In reality, this decision caused a rather repulsive effect among the participants in the competition. So, Kevin de Bruyne, midfielder of Manchester City and the Belgian national team, whose national team became the opponent of Russia at Euro 2020, has already expressed a negative attitude towards this format.
“It’s a shame that everything is already defined. The tournament turns out to be somehow fake, and football is becoming more and more like business as usual, ”said one of the most expensive football players in the world in an interview with the Belgian edition of VTM Nieuws.
One way or another, but the UEFA decision has already been made. The fact is that the upcoming Euro for the first time in history will be held at the stadiums of 12 host countries of the tournament. This fact forced the leadership of the organization to split the host teams into different groups in advance, disbanding twelve teams in six quartets.
At the same time, the association, due to international conflicts, continued the practice of separating the national teams of Russia, Ukraine and Kosovo. Thus, the composition of Group B was actually formed a week before the start of the draw. Belgium, Russia, Denmark and one of the Finland-Wales pair formed one of the most difficult groups in the European Championship.
Twelve. All stadiums of the final part of Euro 2020
The Russian national team will play two matches of Euro 2020 in St. Petersburg
Another not the most encouraging decision for the national team was made on November 22 at the draw in Nyon, Switzerland. According to the regulations, it was assumed that the hosts of the tournament would hold at least two meetings at home. But due to the fact that Denmark and Russia fell into the same group in the distribution of the teams of the countries hosting the tournament, the decision on where these teams would meet in full-time confrontation had to be determined by the lot.
As a result, the choice fell on the Parken arena in Copenhagen, which seats just over 38 thousand spectators. Stanislav Cherchesov’s team will play the rest of the group round matches in St. Petersburg at the Gazprom-Arena stadium. The final composition of the groups and the schedule of matches on November 30 will be determined by a draw in Bucharest.
Already now we can say that the “red devils” got a completely passable group. Eden Azar and the Company again got hold of the Russian national team, which the Belgians have been beating with enviable regularity in qualifications and major tournaments lately. This was the case at the World Championships in Brazil (1: 0), and so was the qualification for Euro 2020 (3: 1, 4: 1).
The team of the Spaniard Roberto Martinez won the qualifying group with a tangible advantage, without encountering any serious resistance from rivals in the group round during the matches. In ten matches, the same number of victories with the total difference between goals scored and conceded plus 38!
Having conceded only two goals from the Russian national team, the rest of the teams never disturbed the goalkeeper of Real Thibaut Courtois. And Eden Hazard once again proved that right now he is one of the best midfielders not only in European, but also in world football
The story of moving from London to Madrid showed that, for the sake of his dream, the midfielder is ready to give up his well-paid job at Chelsea and go to Madrid, where he was not at all guaranteed a place in the starting lineup with Luca Modric and Toni Kroos playing.
Nevertheless, the Belgian, after the presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu, began to gradually master the composition of the “creamy” and in seven matches of the Spanish La Liga he scored four points on the “goal + pass” system, making three assists. Zinedine Zidane’s squad is undergoing a restructuring after a disastrous Champions League performance last season.
After the summer transfer window, even Azar has no firm place at the start of the Royal Club. In the last three matches of Real Madrid, different combinations of players have always appeared in attack: Vinicius Junior – Benzema – Diaz (with Eibar), Vinicius Junior – Jovic – Hazar (against Betis) and Rodrigo – Jovic – Hazard (in the match with Leganes 0.
The French coach uses the Belgian as a left winger without being strictly attached to the wing. Eden does the same in the matches of the national team, rocking the defenders of Russia in the recent match at the Gazprom-Arena.
Belgian shower. Eden Hazard spoiled the mood of the Russian national team in the European qualifiers again
If at the club Azar has just to gain the authority that he had at Chelsea, then in the national team Roberto Martinez entrusts him with the unconditional place of the leader of the national team, which retains the highest line in the FIFA rating at the moment. And it was Russia that became Azar’s favorite team in qualifying.
In the matches against the team of Stanislav Cherchesov, he twice walked along the defensive line of the Cherchesov team, scoring two goals against Marinato Guilherme. Moreover, it is not the performance of the Belgian that surprises, but the fact with what ease and speed the balls were scored. In the match at the “King Baudouin” stadium, Hazard took part in two scoring combinations (out of three), and in the game in St. Petersburg in three out of four.
In Belgium, the 28-year-old midfielder cheated Yuri Zhirkov, earning (and executing) a penalty. In Russia, he beat Mario Fernandez on his beloved left flank over and over again this time and again did not leave his opponents a single chance.
Before the upcoming Euro, it is alarming that even a top defender by the standards of the Russian Premier League cannot cope with the speedy dribbling of the Belgian leader. In turn, another possible counterpart of Azar by the beginning of the tournament will be almost 37 years old. Yuri is unlikely to pull the pace of the game suggested by the “red devils”.
And in general, the age of the extreme defenders of the Russian national team is approaching 30 years, taking into account Petrov (28 years old) and Smolnikov (31) on our defense flanks. Therefore, the combination of De Bruyne and the Hazard brothers will certainly look like a powerful argument in the summer of 2020.
In the Danish team, as in the case of Belgium, there is a strong midfield leader in the person of Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen. By the way, Real Madrid has repeatedly turned to the London club in the summer about a possible transfer of the 27-year-old footballer.
The Dane was considered by the “cream” scouts in case of a failure with the transfer of Eden Azar. But Chelsea, due to the ban on registration of players, decided to earn a lot and let the Belgian go.
Spurs are not doing their best this season, and not only in the English Premier League. Recently, at the group stage of the Champions League, the team lost at home at the stadium of the same name, Bayern Munich 2: 7.
Let the Londoners in Group B almost certainly secured their way into the playoffs of the tournament, but that defeat influenced the fate of Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino. After ten years of work in the Argentinean coaching staff “Tottenham” the team has decided to dismiss him, despite the first Champions League final in the history of the club last season.
The new coach of “Spurs”, Portuguese Jose Mourinho, had not yet had time to really get used to the north of London, in his usual manner, he gave several interviews, touching upon the topic of the leader of the Danish national team. “I need to understand what is in Christian’s mind or heart. We have to make the right decision for the club, ”he said during the break of the Premier League 13th round match against West Ham.
With the arrival of the Special in Tottenham, the English media recalled the summer rumors around the figure of Eriksen. By the way, the other day there was information about the interest in the midfielder from the Turin “Juventus”.
The publications did not fail to note that Jose will not interfere with the negotiations between the Bianconeri and the player. So, perhaps this winter the Dane will go to conquer Serie A already, where it will be much easier for him to become a champion than in England.
Despite Christian’s problems at Tottenham, he is doing much better in the national team. If in the Premier League the Dane started only seven out of ten matches, then the coach of the national team Oge Hareide all eight meetings of the European qualification released the midfielder from the first minutes. Five goals scored fully compensated for the trust on the part of the 66-year-old Norwegian specialist.
If you compare Eriksen’s role to Hazard’s role in Belgium, Christian clearly stands out from the rest of the players. If Eden always has reinforcements in the midfield partners in the person of De Bruyne, brother Thorgan or Witsel, then in Denmark Eriksen is a clearly defined playmaker without an alternative.
The vision of the field allows him to give passes of any complexity, regardless of the level of resistance of the defenders. A pass behind the back or a long, verified pass through the cut repeatedly brought his partners from Tottenham or the Danish national team to shock positions.
In this regard, the away game against Switzerland at St. Jakob Park was one of the highlights of the entire qualifying campaign. 15 minutes before the end of the match, the Vikings lost three goals to the hosts, and largely thanks to Eriksen’s participation, they scored three goals at the end of the meeting, taking away an important point against one of the favorites of Group D (3: 3).
First, in the 84th minute, Christian Eriksen’s free-kick service found defender Matthias Jorgensen in the goalkeeper’s confusion, and then, after a hidden cut pass, brought RB Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen one on one with Jan Sommer. He gave the pass to the empty net to another Christian – this time Gitkjaer – and the score was 2: 3.
Eriksen’s importance is manifested not so much in the technique of strikes or passes as in the charge for the game. Still in the same game against the Swiss after one of the combinations with Poulsen, Christian, after hitting from the summer, immediately ran after the ball and went for a corner. Even with a score of 0: 2, the leader’s attitude gives confidence to his teammates.
In general, Denmark is almost a more unpleasant opponent for the Russian national team than Belgium. At the 2018 World Cup, Hugo Hareide’s team demonstrated the strictly pragmatic style of play typical of the Scandinavian national teams. The Danes love to stifle their rivals, not allowing even in the match with the French (0: 0) at the 2018 World Cup future tournament winners to play on their own.
And the brightest moment in that match was created by the Danes in the counter-blow, when Cornelius led Eriksen to a rendezvous with Hugo Lloris with a flanking cross. An offensive defeat to Croatia in the 1/8 finals did not allow the Vikings then to reach the quarterfinals, where the Russian team was waiting for them.
But in the League of Nations, Hugo Horeide’s team confidently advanced to Division A, conceding only one goal in four matches against Wales and Ireland. In their manner of play, they are somewhat reminiscent of their neighbors – the Swedes, but they look more aggressive when approaching someone else’s penalty area. Given the unsuccessful experience of Russia playing with the Scandinavians in the same League of Nations, it is the Danes who can prevent Stanislav Cherchesov’s team from competing for one of two tickets to the Euro 2020 playoffs.
Finland or Wales
As for the choice of a team from the fourth basket, it was extremely difficult to find a worse option for the Russian national team. The Welsh reached the semifinals of Euro 2016 sensationally three years ago, simultaneously defeating the Russian national team under the leadership of Leonid Slutsky in the group stage with a score of 3: 0. And the national team of Finland was perhaps the main discovery of the recently passed qualifying round for EURO 2020, finishing second with 18 points.
Having got into group J together with Italy, Greece and Bosnia, the Finns managed for the first time in their history to reach the final part of a major tournament. Markku Kanerva’s team at home beat the Greeks (1: 0) and the Bosnians with Edin Dzeko in the squad (2: 0), and in matches with the Italians they looked decent against the background of four-time world champions (0: 2 away and 1: 2 at home).
Norwich striker Teemu Pukki became the real leader of the national team, showing high performance in the Premier League (6 goals in 12 matches) and in the national team (10 goals in 10 matches). Thus, he became one of the top scorers of the entire qualification. The 29-year-old striker ended up in the company of the strikers of England and Portugal Harry Kane (12 goals) and Cristiano Ronaldo (11).
If in Finland the striker sets the tone for the game, then in the national team of Wales the midfielder of Real Madrid Garrett Bale continues to light up. His performance is more modest than that of the Finnish hero (2 goals and 1 assist), nevertheless, the attention of the fans is still focused on one of the fastest football players in the world. True, in recent years this is not at all about the actions of the midfielder on the field, but rather the provocative antics of the Welshman.
So, in the recent match against Hungary (2: 0) at the Cardiff City stadium, Garrett Bale, along with his teammates, celebrated the entry of the national team to Euro 2020. Everything would be fine, only on the flag with a dragon (national emblem) the inscription “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order. ” The reaction of the “royal club” was not long in coming.
The fact is that back in 2016, the former Real Madrid striker Predrag Mijatovic, commenting on Garrett’s actions in the game for the “creamy”, said the following: “Bale is a special football player. I don’t know him personally. He thinks first about Wales, then about golf, and then about the club itself. ” Thus, the Welshman decided to beat this phrase, which did not go unnoticed in Spain.
The very next day after the game, the Madrid leadership commented on the unpleasant situation. The team’s management noted that they consider the footballer’s act to be thoughtless, provoking the already not the best relations between the midfielder and the club.
Indeed, back in the summer transfer window, when Bale was eager to leave for China, the footballer’s agent Jonathan Barnett then impartially spoke to the Madrid head coach: “Zidane is a disgrace. The coach shows no respect for the player who has done so much for Real Madrid.
The fact is that in the midst of negotiations, the president of “creamy” Florentino Perez at the last moment refused to let the player go to the Chinese “Jiangsu Suning”. Since then, information has regularly appeared in the media about misunderstandings between the player and the coach. Zidane does not hide the fact that the club is actively looking for a new job for Bale.
In this regard, recently it became known that the new coach of “Tottenham” Jose Mourinho is interested in the return of the Welshman to the team where he played before moving to the Spanish La Liga. The Portuguese expects to sign the player already in the winter transfer window and has already informed the Spurs management of his desire.
Given the fact that Garrett will turn 31 next year, this option may be the only chance for him to restart his own career, rather than sitting on the bench in Madrid. And for the national team, this decision would be beneficial, because the current situation makes the Welshman increasingly dance with the flag instead of demonstrating his previous level in the games for the national team.
In any case, both Finland and Wales will not look like a gift for the Russian national team at the upcoming Euro and will do their best to take points in the confrontation with the team of Stanislav Cherchesov. Perhaps, given the first ever major tournament, the Finns will look even slightly more dangerous as potential rivals, due to their incredible mood for the final stage.
The principle “We are already at the Euro and we have nothing to lose” is quite familiar to Russia as well. Not long ago, we watched with the same surprise as our national team surprised everyone by getting into the top eight of the world’s strongest teams.
The Finns are quite capable of bringing a similar scenario to life next summer. But the arrival of Russia in Wales will be a weak consolation for our team, because not long ago the Welsh became bronze medalists of Euro 2016.