Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wagner leaving Lokomotiv?

According to Brazilain website portal Hoje em Dia, Clube Atlético Mineiro are keeping their tabs on Lokomotiv Moscow attacking midfielder Wagner. The same website reports that initial negotiations between the player and the Brazilian club are already underway and the salary issue should not present any obstacles in concluding the agreement. Actually, according to the report, the only obstacle remaining is to find an agreement with Lokomotiv who shelled out 6 million euros less than a year ago to prise him away from Cruzeiro.

The Brazilian portal also declared that Wagner hasn't adapted in Russia and thus he is looking to turn back to Brazil. Maybe going a step too far, they also claimed that Lokomotiv are interested into cashing in for their prized asset following his string of injuries whici sidelined Wagner for most of the time since he joined Lokomotiv.

It is beleived that these are just rumours because it is unlikely that Lokomotiv are looking to offload a midfielder who registered 3 goals and 2 assists in just 7 games. Anyways hope so!! Get well soon Wagner!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oh my Pav!!!

3 matches in and now I am, as perhaps the majority of Lokomotiv fans, really regretting the fact that Lokomotiv weren't able to sign a pure striker - someone in the form of Roman Pavlyuchenko. Although as in previous posts I made my point that I wasn't 100% sure that Roman Pav would be a good signing, with my reasoning being what I deemed an exagarated fee, the fact that I would not for any reason want to see Dmitry Sychev on the bench and his Spartak past, now I had a change of heart and following the three matches played I believe that Lokomotiv would be by far more stronger with Pavlyuchenko up front.

It's true that following his good performances for Kuban last season and his scintalling form in the pre-season, Dramane Traore deserves to get the long awaited opportunity to prove himself with Lokomotiv - but I also strongly believe that the time is rife to deliver. Although his length and strength will for sure made life difficult for the defenders faced to date, one would expect some sort of return in 2 and a half matches in a one-striker formation. Don't get me wrong. Traore have a lot of potential, but he needs to start to deliver. Maybe all he needs to unleash himself is just one goal - well hope so. Although I am no Semin and no great coach, I believe that a striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation should be a clinical complete striker - that is strong in the air, good with his feet and takes his chances - something which to date Traore wasn't.

Unlike Traore, our Sychev doens't meet such credentials. Although the former Marseille striker has the potential to be one of the best forwards in Russia, nowadays Sychev is more of a forward rather than a striker and thus I deem him inappropriate to fill the striker role. Actually in the game against Krylya Sovetov, where he assisted Traore, Sychev had a good game. Although as aforementioned I am no coach and have average knowledge about tactics, I believe that Sychev would be by far more effective playing either as a supportive striker or an inside forward, preferably on the right - a position which we may be lacking. In 3 games Semin played 3 different players, Odemwingie on the first, Torbinsky in the 2nd and Glushakov against Spartak. The latter is competent - Torbinsky is good, but by far more effective on the left given that he is a natural left winger, while with regards to the Nigerian - no comments. Although I hope for a revival from Peter - it's clear that Odemwingie is by far a different player when he wears the green of the Super Eagles. Maybe lack of commitment? Could be.

Maicon? Still a player with an unknown quantity. And should Pavlyuchenko have joined us I don't beleive that the Brazlian would have came to Moscow. So yes in poor words - I REGRET THAT FORMER spartak STAYED AT TOTTENHAM! Moreover, last January Tottenham held for a fee superior to 10mln, next summer they will hold out for an even higher one following his recent fine performance. Pavlyuchenko to Lokomotiv - quite improbable - I truly hope I am wrong .... unless Traore unleash himself the same way he did in the pre-season.

Another option could be giving youngster Aleksandr Minchenkov a run in. Last year he clearly showed that he is more than capable to fill the boots of a striker - as he has the length and is equally good with his feet. The fact that he is a Lokomotiv graduate is a bonus.

What about Artem Milevskiy? Frankly, quite impossible.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lokomotiv succumb to Spartak

Second away match of the season and second defeat of the season. It's true that Spartak were a little bit lucky but actually they stole nothing from the match, even thou a draw would have been somewhat the fairest result. The only difference between the two was that unlike the visitors, Spartak took their chances. Early goals from Suchy and Ari made life difficult for Lokomotiv, who on the artificial turf failed to express themselves. Although Lokomotiv clawed one back through Aliev on the half-hour mark, the red-green failed to get past a sturdy defence and thus had to settle for a 2-1 loss - actually the closest we went was through a Aliev freekick at death end, which unforunately bounced onto the crossbar. Unlucky. Clearly, the best player on pitch for Lokomotiv was Renat Yanbaev who apart of assisting Aliev for the goal, completly terrorised Parshivlyuk at the back. On the other hand, for the third consecutive match, Tarasov ran the midfield again for Lokomotiv as he won countless balls - Amazing work rate.

For the match at Luzhniki against Spartak, Semin kept his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Guilherme started in goal while as we become accustomed to, Yanbaev and Kuzmin started on the left and right flank respectively. Basha returned from injury and partnered Asatiani at the back. Following his stellar display against Krylya, Charles kept his place alongside Tarasov at the expense of Dujmovic. Glushakov started his first match of the season on the right flank while Torbinsky change his wing to the left. Aliev assisted Sychev in attack.

Both teams started the match looking to win the midfield battle. Although Lokomotiv looked to have came out a slightly little more aggressive - neverthless it was Spartak who drew first blood. Spartak won a freekick which Alex delivered in. Guilherme, a little badly positioned managed to reach out the ball but parried onto the path of Suchy who instictively shot towards an open net. However Marko Basha managed to stop the ball, but unluckly for Lokomotiv Suchy was there again to pounce home. Unfortunately all this came after a Loko penalty call was turned down by referee Maxim Layushkin. Although Yanbaev was clearly tripped in the box, the ref decided against and let the play on. Barely 8 minutes have passed and Spartak doubled the lead. A poorly played offside trap allowed Ari to tap home from close range - no chance for Guilherme as Spartak fans went wild. Lokomotiv tried to pick up themselves and react. The first shot registered at Dzhanaev was Aliev's freekick which went inches wide. On the half-hour mark Lokomotiv re-opened the match. Yanbaev accelerated down the left and after getting past Sabitov and Parshivlyuk, the left-back laid a perfect ball to Aliev, from which the latter crashed the ball to the top left corner. Game on!! As both teams tussled for every inch, there were no more goals as the ref sent the players to the dressing rooms.

For the second half, Yury Semin looked to increase front fire power and thus introduced Dramane Traore in place of the rather disappoining Dmitry Torbinsky. Valery Karpin responded by withdrawing Welliton for Yakovlev - who eventually had the first chance of the second half. Ibson bursted down on the left flank and after cutting in crossed the ball to the centre. Basha failed to deal with the ball and Ari was presented a chance on a golden plate to bury the match. Fortunately for us the Brazilian forward hesitated and instead of giving a shot passed the ball to Yakovlev whose shot was dealt well by the Loko rearguard. As minutes went by, Spartak looked to be happy to defend their slight advantage and operate on counter attacks. On the other hand Semin, looking for the drawing goal, replaced the tired Sychev with Odemwingie. Neverthless, it was Aliev again that troubled Spartak's defence - all this after some good work from Tarasov who grew from strength to strength as the match went on. With the previous substitutions yielding no results, Semin played his last card, that is Gatagov in place of the disappointing Charles. Unfortunately there was no late drama as the crossbar saved Spartak to hold on for a derby victory. 2-1 the final score.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 5.5
Slighlty bad positioned for the opening goal. Otherwise did nothing wrong.
Kuzmin - 6.5
Held his own on the right. Good match from the former Citizen.
Asatiani - 6
Had a few scares but closed down Welliton well.
Basha - 5.5
Mixed match from the centre-back. Stopped some attacking moves but kept Ari inside for the second goal.
Yanbaev - 7.5
Terrorised Spartak's right flank. One of the best on pitch.
Charles - 5.5
Failed to mark his authority at the middle of the park
Tarasov - 7
Industrious performance from the midfielder. Won countless ball and sprayed the ball around very well.
Torbinsky - 5.5
Anonymous for much of the first half.
Glushakov - 5.5
Quite similar to Torba
Aliev - 7
Took his goal very well - Loko's first from open play. Unlucky to hit the crossbar with a very late freekick
Sychev - 5.5
Seems that he is not yet fully fit. Marked out from the match by Spartak's sturdy defence.

Traore - 6
His length and strength created havoc in Spartak's backline. Made life quite difficult for Spartak. Yet have to score this season
Odemwingie - 5.5
Given 20 minutes to shine, yet he failed to do something notworthy except one good run.
Gatagov - N/A
No time to impress

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lokomotiv rip Krylya off their wings

In a match which Lokomotiv enjoyed near total domination, Lokomotiv failed to provide shocks and eventually recorded a 3-0 win over a depleted Krylya Sovetov. Acquiring players for them is a must if they want to uphold their status in the premier division of Russian football. Although the score is very pleasing, neverthless I believe that Lokomotiv is still a slighlty far from it's best. Actually neither of the three goals came from open play. Although they dominated play and played eye-catching passing match Lokomotiv often failed to filter through the packed Krylya Sovetov back. Credit to the Samara outfit as well as they protected their keeper very well, especially in the first half. Obviously new signing Aleksandr Aliev ran the show. His cooly taken penalty and trademark freekick resembled those of club icon Dmitry Loskov. On the other hand for the second consecutive match Tarasov bossed the midfield while Yanbaev tormented Krylya's right flank. With regards to Traore, I think that he only needs to find a goal in order to repliate his pre-season form.

For the match against the Soviet Wings of Samara, Semin ringed some changes. Guilherme obviously kept his place as Kuzmin, Asatiani and Yanbaev have done. The only change was Sennikov who was replaced by Dujmovic. Asatiani was shifted to the centre-left in order to accomodate the versatile defensive midfielder. Charles took the slot freed by Dujmovic and partnered Tarasov in the centre. Peter Odemwingie, following his dismal performance in Kazan, was relegated to the bench and his place was taken from Dmitry Torbinsky, who skipped the opener due to suspension. Aleksandr Aliev, Sychev and Traore completed the 4-2-3-1 line-up. Odemwingie, Maicon, Gatagov, Glushakov, Smolnikov, Sennikov and Cech were the substitutes.

As expected, Lokomotiv looked to take the initiative from the beginning. Neverthless it was the team from Samara to create the first opportunity as Leilton shot went centimetres wide of the right-post. First scare for Guilherme, and eventually the last scare of the first half as from then on it was all Lokomotiv. Lokomotiv response took as long as eight minutes as right-back Kuzmin stormed into Krylya's area and attempted his shot which unfortunately went well wide. The following chance fell to Traore who headed after a good run by the excellent Yanbaev. Actually the left back seemed to play with fire in his belly as within minutes he created another chance, this time to Tarasov whose first time shot went just above the crossbar. As minutes went by, Lokomotiv started to increase pressure and actually restricted the sky-white blues in their own half. Krylya's Belarussian keeper Yurchenko saved his team on two occasions as he replied well to Traore and Charles. The former save was world class as he showed amazing reflexes to keep the Malian's bullet header out of goal. Although it was a matter of when scoring rather than it, Lokomotiv failed to make their possesion and chances count and eventually the score at half-time was that of nil-nil.

In the second half, Lokomotiv came out to continue what they left in the former period. Within 5 minutes Lokomotiv were awarded a penalty, as Torbinsky was pushed in the box by the inexperienced Bodanov. Without hesitance, referee Kazmenko pointed to the spot. Aliev took charge and opened his account for Lokomotiv by sending the keeper the wrong way. Same did Dmitry Sychev 4 minutes later as Lokomotiv were again rewarded another penalty as Yanbaev was upended at the border of the box. Barely 3 minutes have passed and Lokomotiv made it 3. Lokomotiv were awarded a freekick some 11 metres from the 18-yard box from which Aliev rifled into the top left of the net. Yurchenko had no chance. Excellent goal from our new prodigy!! With the score being at 3-0, Lokomotiv relaxed a bit and it was then that Krylya threatened as Salugin troubled Guilherme. Yurchenko was on his spot again as he twice denied the home team after replying well for Odemwingie and Kuzmin strikes. The last chance fell into the feet of Savin who after rounding the keeper, from an acute angle couldn't deposit the ball into the net. 3-0 was the final score!! The goals can be seen by clicking here.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 6
A spectator for much of the match.
Kuzmin - 6.5
Put in some decent crosses. Pleasing display from the right back
Dujmovic - 6
Nothing to do in a match which much of the play took place in Krylya's half
Asatiani - 6.5
Quiet evening for the vice-captain
Yanbaev - 7.5
One of the best players on pitch. Made Loko's left flank his own. Could have recorded two assists to his name on another day.
Tarasov - 6.5
Won some good balls. Showed some delightful touches.
Charles - 6.5
Sprayed some good balls and let nothing going past him. Industrious as ever.
Torbinsky - 7
One of the reasons why Lokomotiv performed better than last time. Protected the ball well and obtained the first penalty. Let's hope he have an injury free season!
Aliev - 8
Man of match. Following a quite a quiet first half display, Aliev bursted to life in the second period by scoring twice. Took his set pieces well and sprayed a lot of good balls. Already a crowd favourite! Possibly our new Loskov
Sychev - 6.5
Linked very well with the others. Took his penalty very well.
Traore - 6.5
Made life difficult for Krylya's backline but his finishing let him down. Sometimes looked too eager to shoot rather than passing to his team mates. Neverthless I am adamant that one goal would unleash him.

Odemwingie - 5.5
Let in one good shot.
Maicon - N/A
Not enough time to impress in his debut. Gave us a hint of his speed on some occasions.
Gatagov - N/A
Not enough time to impress for the youngster.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lokomotiv stumble against Rubin

For the 5th time in succession, Lokomotiv failed to register a win in their opening match. Although performing better than their opponents, the current Russian champions, for much of the match, Lokomotiv failed to deliver and eventually slumped to what I believe to be an undeserved defeat. Another important factor to pinpoint out is the pitch, which resembled more a potato field rather than a football pitch. Although it is true that the pitch made ball control difficult for both set of players, I believe that the state of the pitch have hurted more Lokomotiv than Rubin given that the red-green play ball to ground, flowing football. Anyways it is useless to moan about the state of the pitch or everything else as the result is two zero to Rubin. The backline also have to share responsibility as their lapses of concentration presented Rubin their chances, on which they capulated. In simple words they were effective, unlike us. Credit to them.
(The picture below shows the state of the pitch...)

On of the positives which we can take from the match is the new partnership of Dujmovic and Tarasov, who if they be consistent I believe that they could play a major role for success. Obviously the most disappointing player was Peter Odemwingie who amazingly failed to dribble past one player on any occasion. Its true that the pitch is disastrous but Rubin's Kasaev was playing on the same pitch. Truly disappointing.

As expected, Semin sticked to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Guilherme kept his place between the sticks while Asatiani and the ageing Sennikov partnershiped each other at the centre. Kuzmin and Yanbaev played on the flanks. As aforementioned Dujmovic and Tarasov anchored the midfield while Odewingie, the debutant Aliev and Sychev assisted Malian striker Traore in attack. There was no debuts for Ilic and Maicon as although they were called to the bench they weren't introduced in the pitch from Semin. Actually the only substitution executed by Semin was the introduction of Denis Glushakov who replaced Odemwingie.

With regards to the match, the level of football played in the first half left a lot to be desired. Chances resulted to be very hard to come by and actually there were few shots on goal. Rubin Kazan were the first to threaten. The homeside were awarded a freekick in the centre of the park which Noboa delivered into the box. The ball evaded everyone and ended into the net, but rightly the the goal was ruled out for a foul on Guilherme. Lokomotiv responded immediately as Traore took advantage from Orekhov's error and shot at goal. Ryzhikov was equal to it. Some minutes after, a mix-up between Kuzmin and Guilherme presented Rubin an opportunity to score, which fortunately the homeside didn't take as Asatiani backtracked and with a last ditch tackle cleared the danger. This was eventually the last action of the first half as the ref sent both set of players to the dressing rooms with the score being nil-nil.

In the second half Lokomotiv came out a little bit aggressive than the first half and eventually the visitors were the first to threaten. Sychev brillantly played Traore through, and from a quite angled position the effort of the latter was cleared by Ryzhikov in a somewhat fortuitous stop. The former-Lokomotiv keeper was called agian into action as Aliev let a thunder-freekick. The keeper failed to handle the ball and spilled the ball into the path of Odemwingie. Ryzhikov made amends for his earlier mistake and closed well on the Nigerian. As the match went on Lokomotiv found their rythym and started to built some good moves, which however lacked the end product. In a bid to improve the attack, Semin put on Glushakov in the place of the ineffective Odemwingie. With three minutes remaining and a stalemate the most probable, Rubin drew first blood. Gorbanets, who took the place of Kasaev some minutes earlier, received the ball from Noboa, cut inside and let in a grounded shot which ended up into the net, hitting the upright on it's way in. Guilherme should have been a little better positioned. Lokomotiv tried to reply and snatch the deserving goal of the draw but with the back exposed, Rubin scored the second adn settled the match. The goal came through Bukharov, who deposited into an open net after being assisted by new Rubin signing Tekke Fatih. Two-zero was the final score.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 6
A little culpable for the opening goal as he may have been a little better positioned. Nothing to do with the second. Excelled in air.
Kuzmin - 6
Closed Karadeniz well. Gave Rubin an half-chance after a mix-up with Guilherme
Asatiani - 7
A collossus at the back. Saved a nearly certain goal and was outstanding throughout all match.
Sennikov - 5.5
He maybe experienced but his lack of pace was exposed on certain occasions
Yanbaev - 5.5
Could have closed down better Gorbanets. Failed to make trademark runs he used to do last year, could be excused by the poor state of the pitch
Dujmovic - 6.5
Played very well and won countless balls. Sprayed the ball well.
Tarasov - 7
An encouraging debut from the tall midfielder. As his partner won many balls and was a machine at the centre of the park
Odemwingie - 5
Really poor. Didn't get past the left back on any occasion.
Aliev - 6
Slightly more was expected from him. However distributed the set-pieces well.
Sychev - 6
Put Traore through, but clearly his place is not on the flank.
Traore - 6.5
Used his body well to protect the ball. Even though he failed to replicate the pre-season form, he troubled Rubin's back four. Encouraging showing.

Glushakov - N/A
Little time to impress.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sychev appointed Captain

Today, during a general meeting of the team in their last pre-season gathering, Dmitry Sychev was elected as Lokomotiv's new captain for the upcoming season. For Sychev this will not be the first time that he will be wearing the captain's armband on his arm as last season he regularly deputised for Rodolfo, when the latter was out injured.

Georgian defender Malkhaz Asatiani and former captain Rodolfo were selected as vice-captains.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Branko Ilič follows Maicon

Shortly after the announcement of the signing of Maicon, Lokomotiv announced another signing. Unlike Aliev, Tarasov and the most recently Maicon, the rumour that Ilič could join Lokomotiv surfaced just yesterday. Actually Ilič was believed to have followed his former team mate Alexandr Sheshukov from FC Moscow to Spartak Moscow. It appears that this wasn't the case and apparently Lokomotiv pounced on the versatile Slovenian defender who can play both on the right and centre and also as a defensive midfielder. The 27 year old defender sign for 2 years. Branko chose the number 20.

Ilič, who have 36 Slovenian caps to his name started his career with his hometown club NK Olimpija Ljubljana. In January 2005 he left Olimpija to join NK Domžale. After helping Domžale outfit to claim the Slovenian Championship, Branko opted for a move overseas and joined Spanish club Real Betis on loan. After impressing for the Andalusian outfit, Real decided to make the move permanent and signed the Slovenian versatile for a transfer fee of €1.5 million. Although starting strongly, the Slovenian soon lost his place to new arrival Nelson and after Betis were relegated, in September Branko was loaned to FC Moscow for one season. In January, Ilič was permanently released from Betis and thus he resigned for FC Moscow, only to be soon released afterwards due to the Citizens withdrawal. Lokomotiv took advantage and signed the Slovenian on a free transfer.

I believe that the signature of Ilič is a good of piece of business. Apart of the fact that Ilič joined for free, the player's versatile will give us some much needed cover at the back, particularly on the flanks. With no cover for Kuzmin and Yanbaev I feared that as last season, Lokomotiv could suffer if one of the two would suffer an injury. In addition, with Rodolfo and Yefimov out of action for a while, Branko could be drafted in their place; who for sure will be a better move rather than moving Dujmovic to the back. Thus giving the circumstances I believe that Ilič is a great signing. The only drawback is that Branko is a Slovenian, and therefore a "legionnaire".


Lokomotiv officially sign Maicon

After days of rumours and protracted negotiations, finally Lokomotiv got their man. Maicon Marques Bitencourt - Maicon for short is Lokomotiv's new man. Although Lokomotiv didn't disclosed the fee involved, according to various sources, it is believed that Loko shelled out € 4.5 million in order to prise Maicon away from Fluminense. The 1990-born versatile forward signed a contract of 4.5 years. Maicon will play under the number 90.

Prior to joining Lokomotiv, Maicon played all of his career with Fluminense. The 1.81m forward joined the Tricolor in 2006 and went on to rack up 66 appearances and scoring 6 goals in the process. Recently the youngster formed a lethal partnership with Fred in the Fluminense attack and his explosive speed earned him the nickname Maicon Bolt, in comparision of Usian Bolt, the reigning champion. Maicon was also part of the Brazilian U20 squad who won the silver medals in the last Under 20 World Cup.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Pavlov swaps Loko for Loko-2

Today Lokomotiv-2 Moscow announced the signature of defender Kirill Pavlov from Lokomotiv Moscow. The 20 year old midfielder sign a one-year loan contract with Loko's farm club. Pavlov added that Lokomotiv headcoach Yury Semin advised him to join Lokomotiv-2 in order to gain valuable first team experience. He ended by stating that he hopes that he gains the necessary exprience so that next year he speaks for the main squad. All the best Pavlov!!