March 22, 2023

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Spartak controlled the first half through pressure and possession. Loko responded with Miranchuk’s exit and sharp corners

Spartak controlled the first half through pressure and possession. Loko responded with Miranchuk’s exit and sharp corners

Spartak controlled the first half through pressure and possession. Loko responded with Miranchuk’s exit and sharp corners

The teams were taken in half time, but Spartak looked more systematic.

Spartak defeated Lokomotiv in the first match of the 1/4 finals of the Russian Cup (1:0). Guillermo Abascal’s team took advantage of the hosts’ mistake in the center of the field and looked much stronger in the first half, but in the second half Lokomotiv corrected the situation and could escape.

Mikhail Galaktionov put up 4-3-3 and trusted the newcomers from the first minutes: Ilya Lantratov took a place in goal, Igor Smolnikov came out on the right in defense, Sergey Pinyaev was a left winger, and Artem Dzyuba started in the center of attack. The choice in the center of the field and the flanks was especially intriguing: in the first case, Lokomotiv had excellent competition (Anton Miranchuk and Konstantin Maradishvili remained on the bench), and in the second, they were interested in combinations (the coaching staff preferred Francois Camano over Maxim Glushenkov).

Guillermo Abascal surprised even more – the Spaniard used 11 Russian players in the starting lineup. Most of the combinations suggested themselves: for example, Prutsev-Litvinov-Zobnin showed themselves excellently at the training camp, Denisov pleasantly surprised with a new role, and Quincy Promes and Keita Balde also competed ahead (Shamar Nicholson and Alexander Sobolev were disqualified).

Perhaps Abascal’s decision was influenced by weather conditions and the shape of the leaders (definitely referring to Promes, who was preparing for the resumption of the season separately from the team): “First of all, it is important to understand: when we decide who will be in the starting lineup, we determine by readiness. But I agree with the statement that Russian football players have been accustomed to such fields since childhood. Of course, we made this decision, the guys had the opportunity to prove themselves.

Spartak kept the Winter Cup settings and scored thanks to an intense pressing segment

“We are trying to transfer the two main concepts of rugby to Spartak. The first is the importance of each meter. The second is the importance of contact, blocking the player. Naturally, we must act within the rules, but firmly and resolutely. It is better to stop the opponent 60 meters before our penalty area than to let them pass to our goal, ”Abascal explained before the resumption of the season.

In the winter, Spartak played aggressive pressure: they used 4-3-3, the eights played tight on point guards, and the central and wing backs maintained a very high line (often they even pressed on the attacking third). Against Lokomotiv, Abascal retained an aggressive pressing dynamic, where the triangle in the center of the field deprived the hosts of variability (the choice of midfielders also contributed to problems: Karpukas-Barinov-Kulikov is a more defensive option).

In the first half, Spartak had more possession of the ball, while Lokomotiv did not always press. The hosts’ possession was also simplified: Lantratov periodically knocked the ball forward, deliberately refusing to short rallies. But even in such a neat regime, Galaktionov’s team fell under a very hard pressing segment of Spartak.

Spartak is able to press in different modes: 4-3-3, where the wingers attack the central defenders, while the rest support the pressure (for example, the full-backs move into someone else’s third), more accurate 4-1-2-3 (the attention of the wingers is focused on the flank defenders), similar to 4-4-2 (the eight is pulled out in a pair to the CN).

Here, Lokomotiv failed to cope with intense pressure on the flank: Zinkovsky attacked Smolnikov, and Khlusevich covered Kamano’s dash in depth (tackle provoked a response attack). An important detail is the dismantled 1-in-1 midfielders of Lokomotiv. At the end of the episode, Chernov blocked Loko’s counterattack: he threw himself behind Dziuba and fouled.