Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lokomotiv back on track

At long last! 3 points and a convincing win!! For the first time this season, Lokomotiv forwards managed to link up with each other throughout all the match! Aliev was brilliant as ever, Gatagov brought into the side some trickery which we lately lacked, Sychev had a pretty good match and gave his all while Traore did some good work as he battled well in the air. Nevertheless the highlight of the match was the goal scored by Maicon - which apart of being Maicon first ever goal for us, was the first goal scored by a striker in open play this season!! Couldn't have gone to the holidays better - holidays which couldn't come at better times. Undoubtedly our paternal figure will use those days to look at his squad, what we lacked, where we can/should improve and of course any potential needed striker. Actually, today the talk about Pavlyuchenko's transfer to Lokomotiv was reopened as the media cited that Lokomotiv have lodged another bid for the Russian international. While it's pleasant to hear so, it is even more pleasant to watch the player himself, Roman Pavlyuchenko at the stands of our stadium. The question is ... could it be the sign that he is near to Lokomotiv? Hope so!! For sure the striker would bring something which the squad obviously lack - firepower upfront! Moreover, from what we've saw today, I believe that a Pavlyuchenko would be the perfect match for Sychev. Although our captain was recently heavy criticised, I believe that, although it's true that he wasn't at his best, the formation and his position didn't helped his situation. Sychev is more of a second striker rather than a striker - and today it was clearly shown. Although he failed to get onto the scoresheet, the central forward linked up well with the rest of the squad, particularly Gatagov & Yanbaev, and unsurprisingly he was on of the best on pitch. Another player to praise is Branko Ilic. The Slovenian, who replaced Oleg Kuzmin was making his first ever appearance for Lokomotiv and let no one down with his good match. Keep it up mate and all the best for the World Cup!

Today, eager to end this first part of the season with a win, Semin decided to ring the changes against Amkar. As aforementioned, Oleg Kuzmin made way for Branko Ilic while there was still no place for Rodolfo in the starting line-up and thus Marko Basha mantained his place. Asatiani and Yanbaev together with the ever-present Guilherme completed the defensive department. Tarasov partnered the Croatian Dujmovic in the midfield while Aliev and Gatagov, who took the place of Glushakov completed the midfield. Recall that the latter was making his first start of the season. In attack, Sychev partnered the Malian Traore, who replaced Maicon.

As expected, with both clubs looking to turn around their recent abmysal form, the match started in a frantic manner. Within minutes, Amkar, through their best player on the day, Grishin, nearly forced the home keeper into a mistake, as the left-winger stinging cross-shot created a lot of problems for the Brazilian stopper - nevertheless, the no.1 managed to parry the ball to a car, albeit with a little bit of difficulty and luck. Lokomotiv soon replied, as through one good move, Sychev found Gatagov, who after rushing onto goal could only shot directly to Narubin - Loko fans sounded their appreciation for the build-up. On the quarter mark, Lokomotiv went ahead. Lokomotiv were awarded a freekick long way outside and up stepped the usual Aliev who hit the freekick with real venom, to the extent that Narubin could only parry onto the net. Lokomotiv stadium erupted! As soon as Loko went ahead, the home side were happy to let the visitors take the iniative and try to hit onto the counter. In a rare Amkar attack, Peev looked to copy Aliev with a freekick of his own, but unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, Guilherme, unlike Narubin was equal to it. On the other hand, Sychev rushed onto the keeper and his effort form a quite tight angle was greatly blocked by the sliding Kalashnikov, who replaced their icon Alexey Popov who is believed of injuring badly his hand - possibly even breaking his hand. Anyways, get well soon Alexey.

Making no changes in the break, Lokomotiv came out looking to put the match to bed. Aliev was the man to threaten again as his freekick troubled again the visiting keeper - however, this time round the keeper managed to repel the ball outwards. Sychev tried his luck too on several occasions but no matter how hard he tried, he was luckless. As minutes started to pass by, Lokomotiv started to retreat backwards and operate on the counter, as at the end of the first period. Eventually, with 10 mins to spare, Lokomotiv found the winning goal. Yanbaev played a majestic one-two with Sychev, rushed onto the small box and his cross shot found Maicon, who from inches out bundled home - much to the delight of himself, the Loko squad, Semin and obviously the Lokomotiv stadium. Apart of a similar chance apiece for Kolomeitsev and Glushakov, there was no final drama and thus Lokomotiv could celebrate a win which hopefully will boost our confidence. Happy holidays and good luck to those who are going to the World Cup, including you Peter, so maybe hopefully you leave once and for all!! The goals can be seen by clicking here

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7
Recovered well form his early scare and did well at the back. His distribution was class today - on several occasion even iniaiting the counter himself.
Ilic - 7
A sound debut from the Slovenian. Was visibly excited, but nevertheless grew in stature as the match went on.
Asatiani - 7
Was eager to show Rakhimov that he deserved better form him. Had Burmistrov in his pockets for most of the match
Basha - 7
Replied to his critics quite well as he produced, arguably, his best performance of the season.
Yanbaev - 7.5
Linked up very well with Sychev and other attackers. One of Lokomotiv's main threats. Strong and disciplined in defence too.
Dujmovic - 7.5
Imperious performance from the Croatian. Never stopped running
Tarasov - 6.5
Good match from the former under-21 Russian international. Substituted in second half.
Aliev - 8
Produced the moment of magic which broke the deadlock. Literally stunning. An all-around performance from the Ukranian.
Gatagov - 8
Watch and learn Peter Odemwingie. Arguably man of the match. His trickery and eagerness to impress created a lot of problems for the Amkar backline
Sychev - 8
His best performance of the season. Linked up well for the build-up of the second goal and gave his 150% throughout all the match. Got pass several players too.
Traore - 6.5
Didn't scored again, but at least won some balls in air.

Glushakov - 6.5
Did the job of the man he replaced. Could have bagged a goal.
Maicon - 7
His high rating is attributed to the fact that he scored the all important goal
Smolnikov - N/A
No time to impress.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No presents for Semin as Lokomotiv held by Nalchik

A pity, truly. Apparently, fom the various blogs posts I read, the red-green players promised their manager, Yury Semin, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday on the day, that they will reward him with a victory. Unfortunately and shamefully, Lokomotiv did not only failed to win but ensured that Semin wouldn't have the best of birthday by putting another abmyssal performance. Poor, very poor. I know that Nalchik are currently doing wonders, but come on, with the huge difference between the two line-ups Lokomotiv should have at least won the match. With all respect to the Nalchik sides, but on paper Lokomotiv are much stronger. But, as anyone know, match aren't won or lost on paper. Spartak gave their best, Lokomotiv hardly gave their 50%. Disappoiting. Actually, from what I read, our father was in no festive mood after the match and showed the squad what does he really thought of the match!!! I didn't managed to watch all the match as I had a lecture which I couldn't miss, but from the majority of the second half that I managed to watch, Lokomotiv were really really reall poor. Commitment, apart from three or four players looked largely inexistent.

As usual, Lokomotiv were hugely disappoiting in attack. Signing a striker, a complete striker in the form of Roman Pavlyuchenko is now a must for Lokomotiv. Sychev is not suitable for such formation, same applies for Maicon, and as for Traore, he was given his chance, twice, and thus we can deem him that he is not up to our level. With regards to Odemwingie, no comment. He should never be let wear our sacred colours again. He doesn't give a damn about us. Currently, all about he is thinking is the World Cup with Nigeria. You can't blame him but man, it's total a disrespect to the coach, your teammates and top of all to the fans. I read that today he was suspended from training as he showed his desire to train with the Nigerians counterpart rather than with us. I just hope that the match with Saturn was his last with us. I also hope that he will have one heck of a World Cup with a result that half-Europe will be interested to sign him. This will ensure that Odemwingie will never put a foot on pitch with out shirt again. Moreover his value will increase which means more money to us - money which we can use to bring a decent striker - unlike him!! Nevertheless such claims were rebuffed today through Lokomotiv's official website. Still, I believe that his place is not in Moscow, at least with us - unless he changes his attitude and start to give his 100% best - something which he doesn't make for 2 years. Pity - this because I am adamant that if he gives his 100%, simply he could be one of the Premier's best...if not the best. A PITY!

With regards to yesterdays match, as I already aforementioned, I didn't managed to watch the match and thus I can't write any reports - nor give any ratings. The home goal was scored by the Brazilian Leandro, who should thank no one else Kuzmin for giving him acres of space to cooly deliver home. On the other hand, our goal was scored by .... a midfielder - that is Dujmovic, who from some 13 metres out crashed the ball onto the net. Otto Fredrikson had no chance. 1-1 was the score - which eventually was the final score.

Something important to mention is the return of icon Rodolfo, who made his first appearance of the season. Rodolfo, who came for the final minutes of the match, will be expected to stabilize a much distabilized Lokomotiv defence, a defence which let in a remarkable 11 goals in 10 match - Yeah we want to win the league!!

The initial line-up was:

Guilherme, Yanbaev, Kuzmin, Asatiani, Basha, Glushakov, Aliev, Tarasov, Dujmovic, Maicon & Sychev. Gatagov, Traore and Rodolfo were introduced in the place of Maicon, Sychev and Tarasov respectively.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Yury Semin

Today, our mentor and club symbol Yury Semin turns 63 years. Over the last years, Yury Semin contributed a lot to the progression of our club, and for sure without him we would have never reached such heights. From this blog I would like to wish our father figure Yury Happy Birthday, good health and all the best for the future!! Happy Birthday Semin!! Hope that the Loko players give you the present you deserve - that is a win!!

PS. Recall that tonight (18.15 Moscow time, 16.15 C.E.T.) Lokomotiv will cross swords with Spartak Nalchik! Fingers crossed!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saturn breaks Lokomotiv home record

19 is the number of matches which Lokomotiv played at home without ending on the losing side. This remarkable record, which iniated long way back in 2008, was brought to an abrupt end with an unexpected defeat to the hands of a very organized Saturn Moscow region side. Nevertheless I believe that it was Lokomotiv's lack of cohesiveness in attack which made an ordinary defence look inpenetrable. Sychev lacked service, Odemwingie after a good start faded, Torbinsky looked out of his sorts, Maicon was substituted early on and Smolnikov, well he is quite young to drive a whole team on his own. In poor words, the team was poor. It was poor to the extent that tonight I am in no mood to write a report on the match as Lokomotiv, in 90 minutes, at home, against a side which apart of languishing at the foot of the table played against Zenit with a one-man down for 75 minutes on Sunday (that is Lokomotiv were suppose to be fresher), Lokomotiv created relatively nothing. Aliev tried, so did Glushakov, while Sychev put a little effort, but clearly this Lokomotiv cannot go on this way. I believe that time is rife for Semin to scrap his 4-2-3-1 to a formation which suits better Loko players. Such example is the 4-3-1-2. Moreover our father should relegate to the bench those who are fully commited to our sacred shirt!! Better an unexperienced young player who gives his all rather than a bunch of wage-seeker!!

The first man which I will surely drop is Odemwingie. In his first minutes, the Nigerian showed some glimpses of quality, glimpses which eventually he shown just in the opening minutes. This means that the Nigerian is capable - but CLEARLY he does not want to!! Really tragic. Truly this was too much. We fans love Lokomotiv - if you dont want to play for us just LEAVE or hand in a transfer request. I assure you that with such abmysal performances no club in the world would be ready to sign you!! But, well everybody know that you aren't that type of player. As I already said, you are capable, but you do not want to! Remaining on the attacking department, I must point out that Lokomotiv lacks that player which gives Lokomotiv some much needed height in attack. Another important fact to underline is that from all the 3 so-called strikers, it's only Sychev that found the net...from a penalty, too. This sums up Lokomotiv's attack.

Traore was given his chance, twice, so I agree with Semin with his decision to drop him. Sychev, it's true that he spills some chances, but today he got the ball only ONCE, and from a difficult angle he couldn't do wonders. Unfortunately true that however, he isn't agile as he was... Another option is Minchenkov - last season he did quite well when given the chance. Moreover his centimetres would make wonders for Loko's cause. Finally with regards to Maicon, I believe that he is the best striker or forward we have.
Bizarrely, another, and eventually the ultimate option is, Marko Basha, yeah the central defender. With Rodolfo nearly back to the first squad, the big Montenegrin will probably be relegated to the bench. So I ask, why not taking the risk and playing him in attack? Today, although he did the mistake which lead to Saturn's goal he was one of the best on pitch in all respects. Actually I believe that with his composure, decent technique, and his length, the Montenegrin can give Lokomotiv's attack a new dimension. Apart of the chance of playing as a target man and lay ball to the others, I am adamant that the big defender is more than capable to finish off some actions, as truly, from the way he plays the ball out of the defence and his movements, the defender has the composure which our attackers currently lack. PS, against Saturn the centre defender was the man which troubled the most the young Saturn keeper...Same against Terek.

Currently we can do nothing. All we Lokomotiv fans can do is just hope that the current players rediscover their form and for the speedy return of Wagner - or other lay our hopes on Aliev, Glushakov and Maicon.

Best Regards
a hurt die-hard Lokomotiv Fan

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stalemate at Sultan Bilimkhanov Stadium

Generally snatching a draw at Terek is a pretty good result - winning is a bonus. Unfortunately today there was no bonus as Lokomotiv weren't able to get past a strong Terek side. Although Lokomotiv failed to bring home the three points, no one can say that the 0-0 draw is a bad result. Actually it is more the other way round. Playing at the Chechens is no easy task. Apart of having a good balanced squad, Terek boast of one of the most hostile stadiums around in Russia. Actually few are those teams that manage to win at Terek. Actually in the last two visits, Lokomotiv failed to record any point as they succumbed 2-1 on both occasions. Today, although Terek hit the post twice and had a goal rightly ruled off, Lokomotiv had their chances too. On some occasions actually it was the home keeper who saved the men in Green. As Lokomotiv are yet to start to be cohesive in attack, most chances came through shots from outside the box, particularly from Tarasov and Aliev. An important point to mention is Shamil Asildarov's lack of fair play. As his name starts, the guy must be aSHAMed of himself. The reason is because before the tall striker deposited the ball into open net from a rebound, the former Lokomotiv striker tried to score with his hand which eventually lead to the rebound. The striker SHOULD HAVE the decency not the celebrate!! Truly disgraceful act from Shamil!! Although at first the goal was validated by the referee, in a twist of events the referee then decided to rule out the goal. This all after huge protests from the Lokomotiv players - and rightly so!! Recall that if the goal had stood, it eventually would have decided the match.

With regards to tactics and formation, Semin, who returned back to match follwing his one-match suspension ringed the changes as Sychev was relegated to the bench in favour of defensive midfielder Dmitry Tarasov. Odemwingie was switched to the centre while Denis Glushakov filled the position on the right flank. Aliev played behind Odemwingie whil Dujmovic protected the backfour with Tarsov. Brazilian Maicon started on the left. At the back, Yanbaev and Kuzmin switched their positions, that is Yanbaev started on the right, while Kuzmin started on the left. Marko Basha and captain of the day Malkhaz Asatiani protected Guilherme at the centre.
The first minutes of the game were steady ones as both teams failed to built some attacks and much of the play was focused in the middile of the park. Eventually it took the best of 16 minutes to record the first shot on goal. Actually it was Aliev, who with his usual freekick troubled the home keeper Dikan. As minutes went by, Terek started to grow and actually started to share possesion, which in the opening periods was largely dominated by the visitors. Nevertheless, still it was Lokomotiv who were looking a little bit more adventorous in attack as for the first 30 minutes Guilhereme was a spectator. After that Tarasov brought out the best of Dikan with a long range drive, it was Terek that were unlucky to not go ahead. Georgiev broke down on the left and after he stormed into Loko's box, the Bulgarian midfielder crossed the ball to the centre. The cross was badly dealth by Lokomotiv rearguard and eventually the ball fell to Asildarov, who from just inches out could only find the post. Terek took courage and actually on the 34th minute Terek broke the deadlock through Asildarov. The home stadium bursted into celebrations - which eventually lasted only some seconds as the referee rightly reversed his first decision and disallowed the goal for a handball. This because, before depositing the ball into open net, the same striker diverted the ball intenionally towards Guilherme with his hand. Shameful act of play to say the least!! Remarkably the forward wasn't cautioned. Anyways, the were nothing more of note as the ref sent both teams to the dressing rooms with the score being 0-0.

The second half started as the first ended - that is with Terek having yet another goal rightly ruled out. A long drive was badly dealt by Guilherme, who by thus provided Asildarov with the rebound. Guilherme denied the tall striker yet again, but however the ball to Bracamonte who from close distance put the ball into open net - nonetheless the goal didn't stood as the referee whistled for an offside of Asildarov. As minutes went by, both sets of players looked very tired and actually a lot of mistakes started to be committed. Nothing of note apart of a good Dujmovic run and a Basha header happened as the ref whistled the final whistle. 0-0 the final score and the first clean sheet in 6 matches.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7
Will be happy with his clean sheet. Great distribution.
Kuzmin - 6.5
Most of Terek's attacks came from his side.
Asatiani - 7
Strong as ever
Basha - 7
Was very composed on the day. Could have scored.
Yanbaev - 7
Dealt with Lakhiyalov's treat quite well.
Dujmovic - 7
Provided a strong presence in Loko's midfield
Tarasov- 6.5
All around performance from the Russian midfielder
Glushakov - 6.5
Played on the right and was little bit less influential than last match.
Aliev - 7
Initiated all Loko's attacks. Troubled Dikan on some occasions
Maicon - 7.5
Yet another good match from the Brazilian wizard. Strong on 1-1 and with bags of stamina. Was maybe little victimised by the referee.
Odemwingie - 6
Quite anonymous. Started well but faded as the game went on. Have to do better to impress any visiting Olympique Lyonnais scouts.
Smolnikov - N/A
Introduced late, very late.