Russia – Turkey: Assertive Russia defeats a nervous and impatient Turkey (2-0)
Russia continued their excellent post-World Cup run thanks to some tremendous motivation, physical intensity and focus. Also key, the inspiration of their attackers: Golovin, Dzyuba and Cheryshev. Turkey, on the other hand, struggled to ‘click’ and display a well-defined offensive plan.
The Russia of Stanislav Cherchesov has a relatively simple game plan. But it is a plan that they execute with intensity, focus and confidence. This has led to a historic display on home soil in the past World Cup, and the team continued their good form in the UEFA Nations League, with a solid away win against Turkey and a draw against Sweden’s tough defense.
Post World-Cup, Cherchesov has focused on a much-needed renewal of the defensive line. Sergei Ignashevitch has retired and Yuri Zhirkov and veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev have left the national team.
As such, Russia’s recent games have featured new names in defense, and this match against Turkey was no exception. Goalkeeper Guilherme Marinato started once again, as well as the new center back pairing of Georgi Dzhikiya and former Schalke player Roman Neustädter. Surprisingly, experienced winger Aleksei Ionov (FC Rostov) kept Denis Cheryshev on the bench. Other than these changes, it was the same Russia we remember from the World Cup, including the 4-2-3-1 lineup and the offensive leadership of playmaker Aleksandr Golovin and striker Artem Dzyuba.
Things are not going so well for Turkey. The legendary ex-Shakhtar Donetsk manager, Mircea Lucescu, succeeded the politically controversial Fatih Terim in 2017, right at the end of World Cup qualification. For a moment Turkey looked like they could turn their fortunes around, but a resounding 0-3 home defeat against Iceland sank any qualification hopes.
Lucescu is now tasked with rebuilding this squad for . . .