Friday, November 02, 2007

From Russia With Love

I asked a Russian friend about the game Russia v England 17 October 2007 and this was his reaction.

You mean Russia-England?  No, no penalty of course.
I was interested to know the reaction of the Spanish,
and watched their news next morning.  No penalty,
it was a mistake of Medina Cantalejo.
Did the ref make the mistake intentionally?  I don't think
so, though I am tempted to say that it was not a good
idea to use referees from  Spain or Italy for such a game.
Subconsciously they would 'help' their own national team
to avoid England in the next stage.
The Russian commentator said that Rooney stopped the
Russian striker 'on the box line' -- and the line is a part
of the box.  My opinion is, no, Rooney had committed his
foul BEFORE the line.  My son also watched the game,
and he completely shared my opinion.
Guus Hiddinck is a real magician.  I do not support the
Russian national team, I rather watched the game
'professionally', I may say.  Well, I can say I am quite
objective in that sense.  First of all, Hiddink was able
to create a good working atmosphere within the team. 
All the players who were invited into his team mentioned
that.  They feel free, and that is very unusual, for we used
to see them under extremely heavy pressure when
the national team was coached by the native Russian managers.
Hiddink has created the opportunity for the guys to show
what they can do, and I am not surprised that they played
some football.  :-)
It was the same when he worked in South Korea, and later
on in Australia.  I watched those teams last summer
during the Cup of Asia, and without Hiddinck they both
looked very bad.  Like weak shadows of their previous
That coach has a talent of strategist.  He had to share points
with England, and decided to sacrifice the first game.
Instead of playing defensively, Russia lost 0-3, and the
English stars somehow underestimated their rival after that

Maclaren failed to see his main problem, and the only
advantage of Russia: before the crucial game in Moscow
the English players would be more exhausted physically
than their rivals.  What could he do then?  The only idea
what I have now, would be using 4-5 fresh players.
Thus, it'd be possible to use some young players against
Estonia, to keep up the energy of the 'main' squad.
There are tons of talented players in England, worthy
to play for the national team.  Ashley Young for example,
the left wing from Aston Villa.  (If he is not injured, of
As for the squad, I agree with Maclaren: his guys are
probably the best.  I watched 2 games recently
transmitted by the Slovenian satellite channel.  First,
Everton v Liverpool (1-2), then Chelsea v Man City
(5-0).  Both Lescott and Richardson are fantastic
players, Lescott, surely, the best left lateral in England.
Maybe it'd be more wise to use Lampard from the
very beginning, I don't know.

The game is not over.  ;-)  Russia is not a perfect team,
and it'd be probably more difficult for Russia to get 3
points in Israel than it was to beat England in Moscow.
The Israeli players are harsh, and even without the
proper motivation they would stand hard being
supported by their fans.  Russia plays well only home,
our guys do not like well-organized teams like Israel.
What would be hard for Maclaren, to inspire his
guys to beat the ambitious Croatians.  The English
players should not keep in their minds the Premiership
and the Champions League, but it'd be very difficult
to do.  As I see, their clubs are on the first place for them.
Abramovich offered the Russian players some fantastic
money for the victory over England.  I am not sure in
the exact sum, and I suspect in reality it was much
bigger than the rumors said.  (Officially, $400 K per
player personally.)  On the other side, the English team
had to fight only for the country's honor.
...Just for England and St George.  :-)
With love,
Leonid Maharinsky,

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