Sunday, October 24, 2010

Late goal just enough for Loko to see off Amkar

Without playing impressing football, Lokomotiv managed to do the enough and scrape with a 2-1 victory over relegation-battlers Amkar Perm. Amkar, which following today's loss have an uphill battle in order to preserve their status in the Russian Premier, went ahead with a well worked goal and after defending resolutely for much of the match, everyone thought that Lokomotiv's recent run was coming to an abrupt end. Nevertheless, one player, ironically wearing the red-black of Amkar had other plans as first he gave away a penalty and then 10 minutes later gave away a freekick and got himself sent-off with an awful challenge on Rodolfo. Although I conceede that the defender may feel a little bit harsh done by the ref's decision to penalize him and award the penalty to the visitors, his challenge from behind on Rodolfo was crime against football and potentially could had left Rodolfo crocked. Eventually, Lokomotiv capitalised on the numerical advantage as from the same freekick, the same Rodolfo acrobatically gave the lead to Lokomotiv - which ultimately resulted to be the decisive one. The win ensured Lokomotiv to regain their fifth place from Spartak Nalchik and close the gap with Spartak Moscow (which could only draw against Sibir) down to 1 point.

For the match against the Urals, Semin opted for a single change from last encounter. Wagner, who last week had a very bad match, was benched and Tarasov was called on to make his 17th start of the season. The other 10 kept their places. The single personnel change also meant that Torbinsky was shifted to the left while Aliev started on the right.

Buoyed by the home crowd present at the Zvezda Stadium, the hosts started brightly and within 7 minutes Amkar were already 1-0 upNevertheless the goal was rightly called off as replays have shown that goal scorer Ristic was in an offside position before he headed home. This visibly instilled confidence in the red-black players and on the quarter-of-an-hour mark Guilherme was called onto action to make a double stop on the Amkar strikers. 7 minutes later, Amkar stormed ahead with an masterfully worked action. Volkov picked the ball at the middle of the park and as Ristic managed to draw both Basha and Durica towards him, the former Saturn midfielder perfectly played the onrushing Topchu through, and with only the goalie the beat, the former Kuban winger lifted the ball over Guilherme and onto the net. The stadium erupted. Knowing that Lokomotiv isn't an expert at breaking down defences, the hosts changed the tactics and focused more on defence. Actually this locked Lokomotiv down and with Loskov looking uninspiring it was no surprise that Amker headed to the break one-nil up.

With no changes made at the break, nothing much changed and soon Semin shaked up things by withdrawing Tarasov and Torbinsky for Gatagov and Wagner respectively. Although Lokomotiv managed to score the drawing goal through Gatagov, the linesman made the second right call of the night and rightly ruled it out for a centimetral offside. With Lokomotiv failing to step up a gear and no strikers at the disposal of our coach, Semin decided to play the last card, that is Rodolfo in attack. The move seemed to had paid dividends immediately as two minutes later Lokomotiv were awarded a soft penalty. Amkar felt they were harshly done by but Lokomotiv didn't mind and Aliev dispatched the penalty at the bottom right corner. 1-1 and game on. With the clock ticking and Lokomotiv desperate for the winning goal, the visitors put men forward and with 2 minutes remaining, they managed to bag the reward. Cherechnikov launched onto Rodolfo and Lokomotiv were rewarded a freekick while the Permian central defender was shown his marching order for a second booking. Aliev played a short freekick towards Sychev who without thinking twice crossed the ball to the centre. Unfortunately the ball was too long and looked destined to be heading for a goalkick. However, out from nowhere popped up Wagner, who played the ball back in the small box and with Rodolfo just metres away from the goal, acrobatically and with his outer of the foot managed to drive home and put Lokomotiv ahead. Rodolfo was ecstatic, and for sure it was the best possible present for his 28th birthday which he celebrated yesterday. Apart of the same Rodolfo picking up a yellow card which ruled him out of the next match due to suspension, there was no final drama and Lokomotiv were left to celebrate a fortuitous victory.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7.5
No chance with goal and made several good stops. Reliable as ever
Shishkin - 6
Wasn't given much room to go forward but was defensively sound.
Basha - 6.5
Made one good tackle and closed down quite well.
Durica - 6.5
Developing a good understanding with his Montenegrin college.
Yanbaev - 5
Poor, offensively and defensively. Badly need to up his game.
Aliev - 6.5
Dispatched the penalty very well but that was all from the midfielder on the day.
Glushakov - 6
Quiet afternoon for the central midfielder.
Tarasov - 5.5
Couldn't get going. Hooked early in the second half.
Loskov - 6
Misplaced some passes. Couldn't inspire.
Torbinsky - 5.5
Quite poor, but hey, at least he didn't picked up a yellow card.
Sychev - 6
Expect better, but won the much important penalty for Lokomotiv.

Gatagov - 6.5

Did quite well.
Wagner - 6.5
Quite inexistent but assisted Rodolfo for the decisive goal.
Rodolfo - 7.5
Literally changed game. Won the important freekick, got Cherechnikov sent-off and popped up for the winner. Best player for the visitors - and all this in 15 minutes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lokomotiv overcome Spartak Nalchik

In the last match of the 24th round of the Russian Championship 2010, Lokomotiv Moscow welcomed Spartak Nalchik at the freezing Lokomotiv Stadium. With Lokomotiv just behind Spartak Nalchik in the standings and both vying for the last Europa League slot, the stage was set for an even encounter. Actually the match was closely fought and it was no surprise that the match was determined by a single goal. Fortunately it was Lokomotiv who came out on top from this tight affair. The star of the show was undoubtedly the goalscorer, Dmitry Sychev. The Russian international, who wasn't called up by Dick Advocaat for the double Russian encounter versus Ireland and Macedonia, made up for his earlier error and blasted the ball home from close, albeit angled position. Another good performers were Marko Basha and Jan Durica who mantained their fine form and kept Spartak Nalchik at bay. Lokomotiv also welcome back talisman Aliev from suspension and although he failed to further his personal tally, he troubled the opposition on a couple of times. On the other hand, although Lokomotiv managed to importantly take home the whole 3 points, I must point out that 1 or two players failed to perform. Unfortunataly Wagner was the main culprit as for the majority of the 45 minutes he stayed on pitch he was practically inexistent. Another major disappointment was Renat Yanbaev, who possibly could have been influenced by the rumoured interest from Zenit St. Petersburg. Anyways this isn't the first time that such thing happened as when Arsenal were following Yanbaev, the left-back's form sufferred.

As aforementiond Semin welcome back Aliev from suspension and for the first time this season, the people's coach decided to start both Aliev and Wagner from the first minute. In addition to these two, another one who was reintstalled to the starting line-up was Dmitry Torbinsky, who was given another chance to stake his claim for a regular place. Glushakov and captain Loskov completed the 5-men midfield while Dmitry Sychev returned from injury to replace the injured Maicon in attack. At the other end, the four at the back and Guilherme, who won a late fitness test mantained their place in the initial line-up.

With both mentors lining up a 4-5-1 formation, unsurprisingly the match started in composed manner. Clearly the counterparts were vreluctant to attack and risk the counter attack and thus much of the play in the opening minutes took place at the middle of the park. Eventually the spectators at the freezing stands had to wait the best 35 minutes to finally see a shot on goal. The first one to threaten was Torbinsky who from 35 yards out severily troubled Kolinko. Moments later Renat Yanbaev burst down from the left and after finding himself in acres of space in the oppositions box, the diminutive left-back tried his luck with a right foot effort to which Kolinko was equal to. That was all in the first half as the supporters could only for a better second half.

In order to spark some life into the team, Semin decided to withdraw the inexistent Wagner for the energetic Gatagov. The substitution seemed to have paid dividends almost immediataly as from the first moments Lokomotiv were clearly more lively than they were in the first half. Nevertheless still nothing materialised and just after the hour mark Semin played the Dramane Traore card. Immediately the match took a new dimension and within seconds Traore won the ball at the middle of the park and after advancing he played through Sychev, who one-on-one with the keeper he shot wide. Minutes later Aliev had a penalty call turned down and soon afterwards Traore tried his luck from an angled position with a left-footed daisycutter. When the home team were losing hope and Spartak looking more confident at the back, Sychev won the ball on the right flank and after turning well in the box he tried his luck from an angled position. His shot was charged down by an opponent but the ball fell once again into the path of Sychev who without thinking twice blasted home. Sychev was understandably ecstatic and more importantly Lokomotiv were leading in an encounter which could determine the whole season. This goal now allowed Loko to close down the opponents and hang out for the result. This opened up Nalchik and made them vulnerable for a possible counter-attack but Lokomotiv, although they had a chance or two, failed to put the match to bed. Actually it was Spartak Nalchik who nearly shocked the home crowd as in one of their last ditch efforts they managed to bundle the ball home only to be rightly ruled out for an offside. Lokomotiv took a sigh of relieve and with Semin introducing Rodolfo in order to help out in defence, the hosts did well to close down their opponents and record an important victory which allowed them to surpass the same Nalchik for the 5th place of the standings.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7
Made two good saves. Reliable and king in the air. Inspired confidence.
Shishkin - 6.5
Not too adventorous but held his own very well.
Basha - 7
Another good performance from the Montenegrin. In one particular occasion he was perfect to read the game and break up a possible threatening counter.
Durica - 7
Strong in the air and confident in possesion.
Yanbaev - 5
Misplaced some passes and never got going.
Glushakov - 6.5
His style resembles very much the one of Maminov. Improving match by match
Loskov - 7
Rallied the troops.
Aliev - 6.5
Troubled Kolinko on a couple of times. Sprayed the ball around very well.
Wagner - 5
Torbinsky - 6
Threatened Kolinko with a long-range blow but clearly his place is not on the right flank.
Sychev - 7.5
Scored the all important goal.

Gatagov - 7
Fulfilled his task very well. Sparked the left flank.
Traore - 7
In my opinion, Lokomotiv would had never scored if Traore wasn't introduced. Gave Lokomotiv a new dimension.
Rodolfo - 6.5
Not much time on field but still influenced proceedings as he won invaluable seconds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lokomotiv keeping tabs on Japanese striker

With Lokomotiv eager to strengthen the attacking department, we must expect that a host of strikers will be linked with Lokomotiv over the upcoming months; and actually following Dzyuba, the next striker to be linked with a move to Moscow is Shinji Okazaki, a Japanese international striker.

Shinji Okazaki, who is able to play as a central forward or second striker, currently plays Shimizu S-Pulse of Japan. The striker, who participated in the last World Cup, is just 24 years old and despite such age he already racked up 34 appearances and scored 18 times for Japan. The Takarazuka born-striker has been improving considerably in recent months and it is thought that Lokomotiv may expect a stern challenge from various European clubs for the signature of the 1.74m striker.

Shinji, who had a good World Cup already declared that he is ready to move to Europe. He conceeded that although his preferred destiations are Italy and Germany, he would jump on the chance to gain some European experience by turning out for Lokomotiv.

Given that the Japanese league is not one which I follow, I can't judge the player, however I must conceede that his goal/appearance ratio is not bad at all. Actually some of goals can be viewed by clicking HERE. Moreover an interesting fact about the player is that the 15 goals he scored in 2009 enabled him to be named by IFFHS as The World Top Goal Scorer 2009.

Sounds a good player to me! Moreover, following the exploits of Shinji Kagawa, Makoto Hasebe and Keisuke Honda for Borussia Dortmund, Worlfsburg and CSKA Moscow respectively, I must say that the prospect of having a Japanese in our ranks sounds nothing but interesting!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lokomotiv interested in Spartak-duo

According to Russian portal, Lokomotiv Moscow are evaluating the option of making a formal enquiry to the availability of Aleksandr Pavlenko and Artem Dzyuba, whose rights are owned by arch-rival Spartak Moscow. Currently, the duo are away from Spartak as they were leased for a year to Rostov and Tom Tomsk respectively.

With regards to the latter, this is not the first time that the player was linked with a transfer to the red-green part of Moscow. Actually it is believed that Lokomotiv already tried to strike out a deal for the large forward in the last off-season (in which they failed) and thus now they intend to resume negotiations in order to acquire the former U-21 Russian international. Although it's true that he is a Spartak man, I believe that the player could do very well at Lokomotiv. He's agile, strong in the air, has the ability to hold up the ball, fairly technichal and at an age of just 22 years he already boosts European experience. Moreover this year he done pretty well with an average Tom Tomsk side as he scored 7 goals in 18 apperances.

As much like as Dzyuba, Aleksandr Pavlenko is also having a strong season as actually he can be considered as one of the mastermind behind Rostov's very respectable position. Pavlenko, who contributed 4 goals in 21 appearances (both league and cup), is 25 years old and has already made 100 appearances for the meat. In my opinion the Ukranian born attacking midfielder style's resembles very much the one of Loskov as he is very creative, possess a good shot and good freekick and is also able to dictate the tempo of the match. Should the move materialise the player would be a fairly good addition to a squad which is limited in creativity.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lokomotiv Moscow, the Champions of....

Yesterday, Lokomotiv Moscow were declared the champions of the Russian Beach Soccer National Tournament. They won the highest local beach soccer honour after they managed to beat former champions Strogino with the score of 3-2. Lokomotiv Moscow, which had much of players which represented Russia in this summer's beach soccer tournament such as Yeremeev, Shkarin and Makarov and a former Russian international in the form of Alexey Smertin were hotly tipped to win the tournament from the beginning, and eventually succesfully delivered. Nevertheless credit must also go to Strogino who although lost some key players at the middle of the season they still managed to provide a stern challenge for the top honour. Shkarin and a double from Swiss beach soccer international Dejan Stankovic paved the way for the win. Meanwhile Lokomotiv Moscow's Yegor Shaikov finished the season as top scorer with a beautiful number of 12 goals.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lokomotiv record first away victory

At loooong last!! Finally, Lokomotiv managed to record a victory away from Lokomotiv Stadium!! While it's always better late then never we must say that no one would have expected that it will take 10 long matches before Lokomotiv won the whole 3 points away from Lokomtiv stadium. Lokomotiv, who practically dominated from start to finish have Loskov to thank for the three points as after wasting a chance after an another it waas evident that for once again the Lokomotiv Moscow strikers forgot their shooting boots at home. Lokomotiv, who were without underfire Dmitry Sychev, throughouly deserved such success as for much of the match they dictated the play and forced Saturn to find refuge in the hopeful-long passing game. Although in recent weeks the Lokomotiv rearguard have been harshly criticised for lacking concentration for the whole match, the four at the back in particular Marko Basha improved considerably and for the last 4 matches they have been particulary impressive. Credit must also go to Jan Durica, whose return have evidently improved considerably the red-green's backline. Nevertheless for sure the man of the moment is no one else the 36 year old Loskov, who for once again turned back the years and produced a man-of-the-match performance. Although it's true that he missed a glorious chance at the begining, Loskov was the one pulling the strings in the midfield and connecting midfield with attack. In my opinion, although Lokomotiv played particulary well, I'm of the belief that with Aliev in our midfield, Lokomotiv would have been able to record a more comfortable victory as for much of the match the Saturn's Ramenskoye defensive midfielders failed to close down Loko's midfield and thus Glushakov & co were able to try their luck from long range out - something which undoubtedly Aliev would have capitalised on.

As aforementioned both Sychev and Aliev were out from the encounter. While the latter was unavailable due to suspension, the former failed a fitness test and thus had to sit out completly the cruncher at Saturn Stadium. In addition, Yury Semin had to make without the services of Malkhaz Asatiani, who is still serving the suspension for his unsportmanship conduct against CSKA. Semin, who toyed with the idea of playing Marko Basha upfront in the absence of Sychev fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation. Guilherme started in goal while Shishkin, Bahsa, Durica and Yanbaev completed the backline. Tarasov and Glushakov protected the back four while Gatagov, Loskov and Wagner were instructed to assist the lonely Maicon in attack.

With Saturn looking to bounce back from the 6-1 reverse to Zenit and Lokomotiv looking to push for a place in the Europa League, both teams came out aggresively and looking to win the midfield battle. Lokomotiv started strongly and Maicon perhaps should have opened the score for the visitors but his attempt to lob over Kinsky went inches wide. Saturn nearly hit Lokomotiv as a cross from the right evaded everyone and the ball fell to Kirichenko, who practically in a penalty position failed to deliver home. The loss of concentration from the defenders in red & green in such moment of madness was particularly remarkable. Nevertheless this was the first and eventually the only moment which Saturn severally threatened Guilherme as from then on it was all Lokomotiv. 2 minutes after the quarter mark Denis Glushakov trimmed the upleft as his long range effort went just centimetres wide. Minutes later Gatagov was presented a wonderful opportunity to break the deadlock but despite being in a good position he shot straight onto the keeper. Lokomotiv, who evidently by now were taking the game to Saturn threatened again through a Dmitry Loskov's freekick which Kinsky, albeit with a difficulty, parried to a corner. Wagner was the next one to threaten but as the others had no luck, and thus wasteful Lokomotiv headed to the break with the score still goalless.

The second half started the way the first ended. Saturn boss Gordeev failed to arrange his team and thus Lokomotiv continued where they left in the first one. Nevertheless although Lokomotiv had a better share of possesion than in the first half, they couldn't get past a sturdy Saturn defence and thus had to settle to long range shot, in particular Glushakov who for the second time in the night gave the illusion of the goal. Gatagov, who was having a bad match spilled yet another perfect opportunity as his attempt to shot goalwards ended up in a farce as seconds before he striked he mistakenly his the ball with his other foot and thus another chance went begging. Semin immediately noted that Gatagov's confidence fell to the ground and thus replaced the youngster with the aggresive Torbinsky. Wagner and Glushakov tried their luck yet again from long range but still couldn't find a way past Kinsky. Nevertheless, with 5 minutes to go finally Lokomotiv broke the dreadlock. Basha, who have been playing in attack for a while by now controlled the ball on the left and after skimming through a Saturn defender played a pinpoint ball to Loskov, who in turn passed the ball to Maicon. With his back to the goal, Maicon played back the ball to Loskov who without thinking twice shot to the bottom left corner of the net. The red-green, in particular the fans were ecstatic. Loskov's dream return to Lokomotiv was now complete as it was only the goal that he was missing. With 5 minutes left, I was wary that the match was far from over. Nevertheless, the Lokomotiv rearguard held on well and thus Lokomotiv managed to record the first away victory of the season.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 6.5
Quiet evening for the big Brazilian
Shishkin - 6.5
Rarely troubled but his poor marking at the beginning of the match could have well costed his side.
Basha - 7.5
Yet another strong showing from the Montenegrin
Durica - 7
Same as his college
Yanbaev - 6
Tried to attack but wasn't effective as we are accustomed to.
Glushakov - 6.5
Tried several long range shots but was luckless in all of them.
Tarasov - 7
Together with Glushakov won the midfield battle and that won the match for Lokomotiv.
Wagner - 6
Several touches delighted the crowd but undoubtedly can do a lot better.
Loskov - 8
A man-of-the-match display. Rolled back the years and pulled the strings for the visitors.
Gatagov - 5
A match to forget for the youngster
Maicon - 6.5
Played out of position and perhaps should have scored early in the match.

Torbinsky - 6
Tried to put his dissapointing form behind him. Unsurprisingly yellow carded too. Need to learn some discipline.
Rodolfo - N/A
No time to influence the match but made what required
Traore - N/A
Introduced to waste some time.