Teams: CSKA, Russia aka EE's Team
10/17/07 Luzhniki....Russia vs. England
Three points or nothing here. If we win we control our own destiny considering our game in hand. The English press is having a hard on over the artificial pitch. Stupid imo as England don't play a technical game to begin with.
Strengths- With Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney England has one of the most dynamic strikers pool in Europe. Owen's a clinical finisher and Rooney is one of the best all around forwards in football. With no Akinfeev these two deadly finishers will give us problems. Owen had two goals in Wembley with clinical finishes. When it comes to defending England is world class, John Terry ( if he's fit Wednsday ) and Rio Ferdinand are two of the best CB's in the world. However this can be a weakness for England, I'll explain later. Last but not least the staple of English football is the aerial game. No one does it better than England and the current Russian NT is notoriously poor in the air.
Weaknesses- Creativity, England has midfielders with wicked shots but no vision. Frank Lampard will play in Moscow, the man can score in bunches...for Chelsea. Frank's not been playing at a world class level for England and he's not exactly known for his play making abilities. Steven Gerrard, as highly rated as he is was invisible for England against us in Wembley. Like Lampard he can score but not create. In the 3-0 win over Russia England looked most dangerous through Sean Wright Phillips, far from a world class winger, but provides flare and speed.
Strengths- Quickness and skill. Russia lost 3-0 in Wembley but the score was not a fair representation of the match. The Russians were far better technically than England and the speed of our midfield and attack gave England problems. Russia was let down by its defense, apart from that the composure and ball movement was there, and if not for a wrongfully disallowed goal the game would have looked much different. Up to the disallowed goal England were being pushed back and all the momentum was in Russia's favor.
Weaknesses- The once supposedly strong defense cracked in Wembley. Poor marking and poor passes, especially from the Berezutskiy brothers is a big concern for Russia, and it showed in London. Besides that Russia is missing arguably the best young GK in the world in Igor Akinfeev. Malafeev is very average ( see Ferdinand's goal ), and the rest of our keepers are very young, can they handle the pressure of such a high profile match with 75,000 screaming fans? Big...BIG....concern for Russia.
Key players missing:
England- Ashley Cole and Michael Carrick.
Russia- Vladimir Bystrov.
Keys to the match:
England- If Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney are on top of their game, Russia's in big trouble. However England goes where there midfield takes them. Can that English midfield create chances? Or will they resort to the long ball game? I'm going with the latter.
Russia- If Russia's defense have a solid game then Russia can surely win this, this will be the key to Russia's success. Russia's midfield is fast and skilled, England defense is strong and slow. If Russia's offense can break that English defense with speed, Paul Robinson will have a long day.
Prediction- I expect Russia to attack, attack, attack. They're motivated from the inflated 3-0 loss and the key is to control midfield. Bystrov is out which means England can breathe easier on the right flank. England was dominant in the air at Wembley so expect them to fire in cross after cross to Owen and Rooney. This will be the true test for Russia's defense. I see Russia feeding off the crowd and scoring early, with England tying it up threw a set piece or a long ball that causes a scramble in the box. It'll end 1-1 in Moscow, and Russia's Euro 2008 hopes will take another blow.