Manuel Veth –
Russia will face Dinamo Moscow in the upcoming international break in September. Russia vs Dinamo Moscow does not exactly sound like an instant classic, and the matchup was the source for major debate among the Futbolgrad Podcast crew on Wednesday.
With just ten months to go until the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia, the Sbornaya look did not manage to find a suitable opponent for international break in September and will, therefore, play in FC Dinamo Moscow on September 3 at the Khimki Arena in the outskirts of Moscow. Furthermore, Russia’s head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who despite trying to display a brave face was seemingly unimpressed with the failures of the Russian Football Union to find an international opponent, has named a very experimental side.
Among the starters are three players from Tosno, Vitali Shakhov, Anton Zabolotny and Yevgeni Chernov, Sparta Prague’s Vyacheslav Karavaev, Krasnodar’s Vyacheslav Podberyozkin, Ufa’s Dmitry Stotsky and to the surprise of many Köln’s Konstantin Rausch. Born in Russia to parents of the small German speaking minority of the Soviet Union Rausch has spent most of his life in Germany and has only become recently available for selection.
Russia vs Dinamo – Rausch’s Nomination was met With Enthusiasm in Köln
His nomination was met with enthusiasm by the Köln social media team, who probably did not realise that Rausch’s first call up will not even be constituted as a full international friendly. The fixture against Dinamo Moscow in fact provided some consternation among the Russian press, who were not quite sure what to label this game between a club team and the Sbornaya. Sports.ru came up with perhaps the best moniker describing it a hybrid-game.
Should Rausch play on September 3, he will not even be able to call himself a full national team player something that will not exactly fill him with confidence. He will also not be the only one who will think of the call up as a dubious honour.
Daler Kuzyaev, who has been sensational for his new club Zenit Saint Petersburg, in the early stages of the Russian Football Premier League, will also wonder whether this will constitute a full call up to the national team. The same will be true for the young stars Anton Miranchuk from Lokomotiv Moscow and Emir Nabiullin from Rubin Kazan.
Scoring sensation Kirill Panchenko from Dinamo Moscow in the meantime will be facing his club for this friendly. His call up makes sense as he has been one of the most consistent Russian strikers this season. But at the same time, he will be the only once capable in the Dinamo side to challenge the Russian defence.
Like the young stars mentioned above, Panchenko might have a good chance to be nominated to Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad. Another player who could be included if he remains healthy will be Denis Cheryshev from Villarreal—the 26-year-old midfielder is perhaps the most talented Russian player of his generation, but injuries have meant that he has never been able to fulfil his potential at Real Madrid and later Villarreal.
Russia vs Dinamo Moscow – The Experimental Squad, Might Come Too Late
Although he will cut the roster from 28 to 23 players later the positives are therefore that Cherchesov has used this rather odd friendly to test some players that have previously not featured in his squad. Russia vs Dinamo Moscow will, therefore, provide an interesting test case for some players that have not shown their potential for Russia yet.
At the same time, the question must be asked whether it is almost too late for this. With the World Cup, just ten months away from testing players like Rausch and Panchenko now seems like a desperate measure.
Of course, players are added to the mix late for other national teams as well. Joachim Löw’s German squad that he took to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, for example, included many players that have never featured for Germany before. It would therefore not be a surprise if Cherchesov has taken a leaf out of Löw’s thinking to bring in players to test them for next year’s tournament. But with the World Cup around the corner, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia would have perhaps been the better opportunity to bring in new blood, especially as the opponents at the tournament were of a higher calibre than Dinamo Moscow.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.