The selection of the 2018 world Cup: the Costs of high style

Friday. Zagreb. The Maksimir Stadium. Croatia – Ukraine – 1:0. In the fight for the ball, Ruslan ROTAN and Ivan RAKITIC. Photo of Paul KUBANOVA, “SE”

Explorer “SE” is trying to understand whether the defeat of the national team of Ukraine in Zagreb, a symbol of domestic despair or part of the painful transition to a new stylistic rails

One of my colleagues – not the last sports journalist in the country – in case of victory the national team of Ukraine in Zagreb promised to shave under a zero. For him, not for years thick hair, this vow seemed akin to the famous promise dick Beddouza ate my newspaper preview of the super Series in 1972 after the victory of the Soviet hockey players in the first match. And, nevertheless, very many thought that, in fact, the risk of colleagues to see the bumps on his skull was reduced to absolute zero. That was a national level of expectation from our trip to the group leader.

Unpatriotic? Yes, but what to expect when on the other side of the fence are just “real” with “Barcelona” and “eventually” and our two “stars” one spends on the field is not longer than I need to restart the computer, and the other understands that a great team will likely be able to play only in FIFA 2017. Almost like in the song Makarevich “And after a couple of years – and no one will take…”.

Seen on “Maximise” not surprised. Before the game, our players talked about that thoroughly studied Croats. And somewhere at the level of subtext could be discerned thought: perhaps now needs to beat them. But, alas, to read the complete works of Jack London does not mean learning to write like him… And no matter how much we hoped that the national team of Ukraine will try to make a snake dance to his flute, and who first pulled a turban – and the fakir. “All who come to us are obliged to acknowledge and respect and submit to our style of play” – these words from the pre-match interview Ivan Rakitic struggled on my subconscious all ninety minutes.

Our trainers three times surprised at the choice of the starting lineup. Debut Matvienko, the existence of which in nature, some of my friends found out, only by streaming from Zagreb, was read after the misses in the application Fedetskiy. For me Nicholas – still levangie promising defender, but the universals in our favor.

Between rotan and Stepanenko Kovalenko – solving more nonlinear than controversial. And, according to General opinion, fully justified. Error after which Modric dispersed scoring attack the owners, I would by the veteran are not recorded. The move was purely instinctive, solid reflexes… Tremble, but tremble under the hammer patella. Shaking, so as not to break into shards.


The coachman and Ordets in defense are, of course, the plot. The appearance of Ivan was asking because someone had to put the granite shoulder to the two “towers” – Kalinic and Mandzukic. Instead of Alexander planned to see Yaroslav Rakitskiy. Shevchenko explained his choice as a decision “in favor of solidity”. If you read between the lines, in this game the legendary long pass from Rakitskiy could be sacrificed for greater reliability in defense. The reliability turned out to be illusory – choice position and thus, as a key martial arts the Coachman, things were not so hot, but the long pass, alas, not enough.

Someone will say: casts Rakitskiy is not the style of Shevchenko. The new team wants to play ball control short passing. Great. I want to invent an elixir of eternal youth, and to this end soaked apples. Then, eat them unprecedented portions and continue to age. Because the apples, alas, not rejuvenating, and the usual “Simirenko”. This I mean that each chef prepares a dish based on available ingredients, and not Vice versa.

In this very new style one continuous ambiguity and uncertainty. Panels, woven of paradoxes. Expected to dominate and pass the ball, but for some reason was not under pressure after his loss. Retreated and waited for a chance to counterattack. The ball was collected and why-that began to carry him on their half of the field – playing in a square in… the goalkeeper. Kovalenko once almost got caught in a ditch after an accident with a “SUV”-Mandzukic. What a strange game, don’t you think?

Believe me, nobody was against, we play like old time Blokhin-Altman, “through the midfield”. In the sense of long balls forward in the “post” or diagonals to the flanks – to the middle line, in General, the ball does not touch. Because a man named Playmaker we have. Viktor Kovalenko – the guy, of course, gold: mobile, hard-working, skilled, with a good shot and flair, but certainly not “fantasista”. At Shakhtar, where the volume of creativity define Marlos and taison, it is striking not so acute. In the team – quite another matter. Here from Kovalenko is required to give the country of coal Stakhanovite standards. And he, apparently, can not. Because he’s different.


When we missed, in the air quietly penetrated the aroma of kerosene, I waited until the coaches will extract fallback. But everything is thought our bench read more from the corner: Seleznev is a free kick that was forced to change counter attacks to the pressure and flanking sheds. Sydorchuk is rotan: to increase the dynamics, even at the expense of thought. Besedin as a second striker? Boldly, but not enough to take Zagreb attrition. Ukraine fought, butting, biting, tearing the grass. Protracted bloody battles, our boys went on to the opponentís half of the field… and didn’t know what to do with the ball next. Main points – all the same “standards”. Corner involving kick and Konoplyanka’s free-kick with the rebound Yarmolenko. Whereupon, perhaps, everything.

Nevertheless, we could bounce: let the Croats a late goal with any degree of randomness could be repeated notorious for their selection to the 2010 world Cup. 2:2 in Zagreb, rent tickets in South Africa.

In General, staffing decisions staff Shevchenko was clear. But then it happened parallel to a modest substitution of Croatia: player of real Madrid goes Kovacic is a player of Rakitic. Away, formalism. Football is played with real people, not names and, especially, salaries. But it turned out that since the generation of Suker, prosinecki and Yarni their players are still in demand in Europe, and they still understand, as there is in the West decided to make bags with the trash?..


I want to emphasize that I think the performance of Croats is far from ideal, and pay attention to the horrible personnel problems faced by the opponent. Injuries to Vrsaljko and Corluka, disqualification perišić, the scandalous Saga Louren, later recovery. At the exit – force majeure a bunch of View-Mitrovic in the centre of defence, Edvi, which is hardly the right lateral protection, and finally, arch-experimental wingers – Brozović… and mandžukić. Čačić, friends, also sculpted his team on the principle of Alena’s Ipinoy: “from what was”. The latter two – not wingers, but they had to play these roles, and they did not give the edge to the leaders at the hotel.

In Croatia, however, understand that the national team had a match far from perfect. After the game, Ante Čačić and Luka Modric almost in unison sang the same song: “In the first half we showed a great game, but after the break, Ukraine has started to push. We knew about the power of the opponent, but still survived and even despite the fact that our defensive line in injury Types spent together just two workouts, Croatia kept the game thread under control”.

He domagoj Vida amuse the press and public paradoxical statement: “If we hadn’t won, I would have hardly survived after returning to Kiev”. As it turned out, the Dynamo defender meant that he’d just destroyed his own jokes and popliteus partners club.

Observers of the Croatian Newspapers and football fans on the guest sites are not particularly impressed by the game of their favorites, but together make allowances for the fact that their team beat the second team in the group without three players from the optimal composition (referring perišić, vrsaljko and Corluka). A more positive topic for discussion in Zagreb – that the match was not recorded any incident involving the ultras. “This was our first official home game in the presence of fans for two years – said the chief editor of the Croatian and Bosnian versions of the portal Ante Buskulic. – All were afraid of any provocation, and the amount of security at the match was off the charts: public order was intended to provide 1200 police and stewards. But the atmosphere in the stadium was great, there was not a single incident, and after the game Čačić and his team enthusiastically thanked the fans, sensing the difference in comparison with the game in an empty stadium”.

The local Newspapers were unanimous in their assessments of the participants of the match. Here the highest and lowest scores from a reputable Croatian publications.

Vecernji List: 7.5 points scored, the scorer of the winning goal kalinic and organizer of a successful attack Modric. Most of the other players in Croatia was awarded 6 points. The best part of Ukrainians was recognized as Yarmolenko is 6.5. The worst for some reason… Stepanenko – 5.

24 sata: journalists of this media was even more enthusiastic. Modric and kalinic got 8. Whereas, Pivaric, Brozović and Mandzukic – 6. The highest score in the part of the guest again Yarmolenko is 6.5. The coachman, Kravets and Seleznev awarded the “fives”.

Sportske novosti: there is also a lead kalinic and Modric – 7.5. Much less impressed with the game Subasic, Edvaya, Pilarica and Brozovich – 6,0. All the Ukrainian players got fit in the range between 5.5 and 6.0. Only Kravets & Seleznev was lowered to 5.0.


But we Croats… Back home. Given the parallel outcomes of the disposition we have, excuse me, lame. Two trips to Iceland and Finland. Dangerous tour. Two home matches – against Croatia, whose chickens in the fall will certainly be healthy and fluffy and Turkey seem to understand with their internal problems in the offices with the corporate carpets.

The era when we could enjoy the effect of novelty and a zero in the column “defeats” was over. Now you need to give the result regardless of the style of play. Or honestly say that we are ready to roll on two years ago to build a new team without looking at the scoreboard. To do both the new staff has not yet obtained.

And until this changes, go to my colleague shaggy.

Mykhaylo SPIVAKOVSKYY, Sport Express in Ukraine

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