Opinion of Ilya Vasiliev.
Season 2022/23 is the worst in the history of the modern Russian team. Yes, there was a lot of pain: missing out on the 2006 World Cup, Maribor 2009, Greece 2012 and a terrible stretch between Wales 2016 and Saudi Arabia 2018. But now the team has no goal at all.
The current generation is very talented, and the terrible matches of the national team are definitely not an indicator of its strength. After Euro 2016 in Russia there were Golovin, Chalov, the Miranchuk brothers and several children of the limit, but now a lot of interesting guys have appeared in the RPL: Pinyaev, Zakharyan and Tyukavin are super, Litvinov, Prutsev, Glebov, Kovalenko, Karpukas are very important players in the clubs , Silyanov, Gladyshev and Denisov are progressing, Krugovoi, Prokhin, Meleshin and the rest can open up. But this interesting youth runs the risk of flying past all the major tournaments – it is quite possible that many of the guys do not understand at all what is happening around the national team and why.
Karpin also admitted this: “I openly said:“ Guys, I don’t know when and for what we are preparing. I can’t tell you what date we might be playing official matches.”
I am far from Karpin’s hate for straightforwardness ( especially for “I’m not holding on to a place in the national team”). The self-irony and honesty of the coach have long been known – it is unlikely that he really does not give a damn about the position. But there is still a question for Karpin and the RFU.
I don’t understand why the national team turns into Rostov. The club is a very complex structure with daily work. Rostov, with a very average set of players, plays difficult football: they constantly involve Sergei Pesyakov in goal kicks, control the ball in their third and in the middle, entrust voluminous roles to Danil Glebov, Maxim Osipenko and Nikolai Komlichenko. But, despite the second place, Rostov has major problems with the organization of attacks, so he hopes for standards, opponents’ mistakes and luck. For courage and coming forward through short passes – respect, but since October the quality of Rostov’s game has been declining, and rebuildings have become predictable – in fact, in a stable cycle, Karpin has not built a solid game.
The national team is much more difficult: it contains different players from dissimilar structures. In the fall of 2021, Karpin spoke in detail about the difficulties before the debut with Croatia: “There were a lot of theoretical classes, but one real training session to work out the pressure. It is clear that a million of all sorts of rebuilding – it is necessary to close transmission lines and zones. All this cannot be done in one workout. In Rostov, it took 10 days for something to start to work out.
Now there are more trainings, but this doesn’t make it easier: the composition is constantly changing, Karpin’s difficult ideas do not have time to be fully assimilated.
Yes, the players in the national team are of a higher class than in Rostov, but Russia has not changed in a year and a half: like a year ago in Split, Karpin asks the defender to put pressure on someone else’s third, and then we get attacks after taking him out behind his back; pressing works very average; good attacks are obtained only thanks to individual skills; losses in their own half have become the norm. As a result, Russia is more unbalanced than even the problematic Rostov.
The World Cup and the Euro show that most of the strong teams are not shy about pragmatism. Yes, Spain and Germany allow themselves a certain style because of the philosophy at the level of youth football, but England, France, Brazil, Argentina and others adapt to the leaders and tactics of opponents – this simplifies the task, helps to improvise the best and does not load the players so much .
Karpin goes the other way, but the quality and context are not at all encouraging: they hardly beat Kyrgyzstan immediately after the announcement of partial mobilization (2:1), rolled 0:0 with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan before the 2022 World Cup, almost lost to Iran (1:1, 5 shots on goal) and almost burned out in the first half with Iraq (2:0, after the break it became more pleasant), while the Europeans are cut for getting into Euro 2024.
A year and a half ago, Karpin came to change his psychology, but now he admits that he sees no improvement: “The psychological problems of the Russian team are the same as they were after the game with Croatia. We’re coming out of defense through a pass now. Yes, we lose balls many times. But we do it to solve our psychological problems. The mistakes that we make when coming out of defense are aimed at making the guys stop being afraid to make a mistake. I want this to lead to far fewer matches like with Croatia. There was a fear of responsibility.”
Karpin is convinced that game problems will be solved through psychology – short draws from the gate, combinations in the center of the field and a quality finish will come with acquired courage. But so far, even those players who are progressing in the clubs do not look so confident in the national team – and here it is necessary to understand the source of fear (the youth are so afraid of the national team or the case in Karpin).
The second half against Iraq showed that Russia can play creative and pretty football. There is the required class, personality and tactical range leading to flexibility.
It seems that in order to progress in such a strange time, it is necessary to take into account the experience of the top teams: to simplify the game a little so that everyone breathes easier.
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