Russian National Team News
There used to be a Russian NT thread when I was a frequent here (which was some time ago). I can't find one now, so I'll start one just for the sake of it (discussion purposes only). Please post RNT news here!
With Ukraine's recent entry into the World Cup, and its success thus far (aside from that dreadful loss to Spain), every RNT fan wonders why Russia has not done well internationally since Euro '96.
It's no knock against Ukraine, I love them too, but I think the RNT outclasses them in every respect with these obvious exceptions:
1) the CF positions (Sychev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin, and Kirichenko are far below the calibur of Shevchenko, and I would even say below that of Voronin)
2) the LB position (Nesmachny isn't super, but I don't think Sennikov or anyone else I can think of is better than him)
3) the GK position (pretty close, but IMO, Ovchinnikov and Akinfeev are only minimally better than Shovkovsky at the moment)
Aside from this, Ukraine has no comparison for the following positions / players: AF (Titov, Loskov, Semak, Radimov), RM (Izmailov, Zhirkov), LF (Bilyaletdinov, Karyaka, even Gusev), DF (Smertin, Aldonin, even Khokhlov), RB (Evseev, Anjukov), CB (Ignashevich, Berezutsky brothers). (Sorry if some of these players are slightly out of position, its just for argument's sake.) Comparatively, Ukraine's Rebrov (playing in the AF position), Tymoschuk and Fedorov, might only barely be on par with Russia's AF, DF, and CB positions on their good days.
Assuming that super strikers don't make a team all by themselves (as exhibited by Didier Drogba and Côte D'Ivoire) it's not the players and their skill that's the problem. The problem can only lay in the choice of players and tactics. More specifically, it must be a coaching problem. (I know, it has been discussed here over and over during the past 3-4 years.)
I think the RNT has had something like 10 coaches / caretakers in the past 3.5 years. That's outrageous and saddening. I say this not only because of Russia's poor record, but because no RNT fan can understand why each and every one of these coaches / caretakers would do such a stupid thing as to play only one lone CF in the formation. This is especially so when they had Sychev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin, and Kirichenko all at their disposal. Not only that, but these coaches hardly used these forwards at all; they used Bulykin instead. Yes, he's tall, but he's hardly a Koller, and even hardly a Crouch. And yes, I understand these coaches repeatedly saying to the media that Titov and Loskov "are supposed to support the lone striker" but they are hardly strikers themselves. If they were even serious about this tactic, they would have put Semak there instead of leaving him off the roster for most of the last decade.
Oleg Blokhin and the Ukrainian NT are a prime example of what good coaching and good player choice and tactics can do for a team. (Are there rumours that Spartak want Blokhin?) I'm glad that Hiddink is now the RNT coach, with all his experience in bringing lesser teams to higher glory.
What do you guys think? Will things change under Hiddink?