Football: France craves a rematch, but the Russians do not give up

An unofficial match of Russian and French football combined teams is scheduled for tomorrow, April 17, at 11:00 p.m. (Moscow time) in Paris.

The Sport-Express on-line web-site asked football fans who is to be the forward in the match in Paris. The following results were obtained: 65.2% (the majority) think that Beschastnykh and Sychev are to play as forwards in the Paris match, while 14.6% suppose that Sychev and Popov are to play as forwards, and 4.3% think that Beschastnykh and Popov will suit. Thirteen-percent of the questioned said that head coach Oleg Romantsev will appoint only one forward.

The author of the article first decided to stick with the majority and support the Beschastnykh – Popov pair, but further reflected on the situation. It is perfectly clear that Vladimir Beschastnykh is the number one striker in Russia today; he is sure to be included in the combined team for the World Championship. It would also be interesting to try a new pair of forwards, Sychev – Popov. However, there is one snag: there is not much time is left before the World Championship, and no time is left for any experiments with the team’s composition.

Coach Oleg Romantsev must now find solutions for complex problems.

Yesterday, the Russian football team arrived in Paris. The team stayed in a hotel in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. Today, the athletes will train in Paris’s central football arena.

Right after the match, head coach of the current European and world champions Roger Lemerre will announce the final staff of the team that is to go to Japan and Korea. We can easily imagine how the French team is to play! We remember perfectly well the last match, when France lost to Russia 2:3.

The Russian and French teams met four times over the last few years: each team won two times. Unfortunately, one of the leading football players from Russia’s combined team, full-back Yury Kovtun (Spartak) will not participate in the Russia – France match. He has injured his left leg and needs three weeks for a complete recovery. Dmitry Ananko from Spartak will play in place of Kovtun in the match in Paris.

Yury Kovtun is the only great loss of the Russian combined team. Several new players have been invited for the match this time. They are second goalkeeper with Spartak Dmitry Goncharov, full-back with Lokomotiv Sergey Ignashevich and, after a long break, former legendary Omari Tetradze (from Vlvadikavkaz’ Alania).

We hope that the Russian football players will perform their best. The French team is the best irritant that can ever be invented. It is time for the Russian team to prove it is “the key figure," and not to be treated as an accidental team at the Championship, the one that lost a match to Estonia. Russia’s combined team is to improve its image. The players should also assume a winner's psychology, and better to do it before the World Championship.

Former coach of the Russian combined team Boris Ignatyev says that the hosts of the match may demonstrate their superiority in any situation, because the French team “looks stronger than the Russian one.” The former coach is especially apprehensive regarding the defense. It is traditionally considered a weak point of the Russian team. Will it stand Zidane and Co.’s pressing? Boris Ignatyev also thinks that the “Russian team may seriously withstand the French offense only with an excellent medial line game, because Russian medial line players are very good.”

A mini-tournament with participation of four combined teams, Russia, Yugoslavia, Belarussia, and Ukraine (the last three teams were not allowed to the World Championship), will take place in Moscow in May.

The coming match is to be a real test of Russia’s team. Games with European and world champions always provide good food for thought, said Oleg Romantsev in an interview to RTR-Sport.Ru. He added that we should keep in mind that the match is unofficial; it will be a sort of preparation stage on the eve of the World Championship in Japan and Korea.

The Russian coach is sure the Japanese team will win the first place, as the team has managed to become used to the tactics of its new coach. Oleg Romantsev considers Valery Karpin, Alexander Mostovoy, and Yegor Titov the best players of the Russian team. They are all half-backs, and the medial line is the strongest point of the Russian team.

Oleg Romantsev stresses that it is really very important to revive self-esteem in the match with the French team. This spirit is to help the Russian team during the World Championships. “We will do our best to reach the the World Cup," says the coach of Russia’s combined football team.

Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

In the photo: coach of the Russian football team Oleg Romantsev

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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