Aleksey Safonov: ''For such a result, we can only take our hat off to Cherchesov''

Famous football agent points out the most important things in the performance of the national team of Russia at the 2018 WC

The last matches of the 2018 WC in Russia – for the third place and final – are ahead. Meanwhile, most of the Russian fans are still talking about the performance of Cherchesov's squad. In his column written for Realnoe Vremya, famous football agent Aleksey Safonov also draws conclusions of the successful WC for the national team of Russia at home.

Win over Spain like in boxing thanks to rival's injury

I've had to hear an opinion the national team of Russia has won only Egypt and Saudi Arabia at this cup, while the rest is a victory of spirit, training and physical preparation. I agree with it to a certain degree. But I think they played quite well against Croatia in comparison with the matches against Uruguay and Spain. The game with the latter reminded a boxing match when a fighter receives blows on his head for 12 rounds, and the fighter who is hitting has an arm injury and is granted a technical defeat.

But we should note that the Spaniards didn't have enough action in Akinfeyev's goal despite the total advantage in ball possession. One specialist (Lopetegui) prepared them for the cup, while the coach (Hierro) changed at the World Cup. In addition, Spain has political moments with Catalonia's desire to become independent, which also affects the team's integrity.

And even so, the national team of Russia won the Spaniards barely, so to speak. The referee had the reasons to grant a penalty to Akinfeyev's goal in the end, and the game would end differently. But the referee forgave, while our guys withstood, resisted, saved the ball with great difficulty. I've said many times the national team of Russia had brighter names in 2008. This is why eight people went abroad after Euro. While Cherchesov's team was strong because of its fighting spirit. Somebody fit the game, somebody didn't. But others appeared and work for themselves and others.

If Smolov had played the first game doing his best, Dzyuba wouldn't have had chances to appear on the pitch

Out hat can be taken off to Cherchesov. Though fortune helped him too

Stanislav Cherchesov also deserves separate words. Many people and, frankly speaking, including me, didn't believe in this specialist. But a lot can be said with such a result. But it will be simply correct to take our hat off and thank him. If somebody downplays that result, take the same team and repeat this achievement in Qatar.

But, to be honest, Cherchesov has surprised. Our team is one of the best teams in defence at this WC. The coach also hit the target by having invited Ignashevich, who, despite his age, played two 120-minute matches easily and cold-bloodedly scored penalty shots after the matches.

And football is mainly one of the stories when one needs to be in the right place at the right time. And there are many things that can be determined as fortune. For instance, if Smolov had played the first game doing his best, Dzyuba wouldn't have had chances to appear on the pitch. If Dzagoyev hadn't got an injury, Cheryshev wouldn't have substituted at the end of matches. While he came out and excellently used his chance.

Dzyuba shouldn't go to China, he's earned well in Russia too

In general, this success has many names. For instance, Artyom Dzyuba. He believed in himself, hit the target, felt he was a leader. He's already 30 years, it's time to go to Europe. I think fans' criticism shook him up. And thank God, he succeeded. He's had the best tournament in his life.

As for Artyom's desire to go to Europe and refusal of the Chinese Championship where he was offered big money, there will be a pile of stories of this kind now. I think he managed to earn in Russia, though I don't like to count others' money. This is why Dzyuba doesn't rush to China. And like hockey players try to cement in NHL for less money, I think he also should try to play in English football. The dimensions will come in handy there. And there is a chance to dive into the atmosphere of real football – with full stadiums and high speeds on the pitch.

As for Smolov, who, as the majority of people think, failed the tournament, it seems to me he's sat out in Russia for two years during this long story with his departure abroad was on

Smolov is a good forward, though he's sat out in Russia for too long

As for Smolov, who, as the majority of people think, failed the tournament, it seems to me he's sat out in Russia for two years during this long story with his departure abroad was on. This uncertainty also puts pressure on the football player psychologically. In addition, the national team's way of playing is different from that of at Krasnodar where the whole team plays for Fyodor. Even if he hasn't had the best WC, I think he's a good forward anyway.

Now there are talks that Lokomotiv can invite Smolov. It would be interesting how he will play in the Champions League. But I don't think foreign clubs have stopped being interested in him. The Champions League can bring Fyodor back. But time goes by, and he doesn't become younger.

It's not correct to say CSKA destroys Golovin's career

A big role in the squad's success belongs to the couple Golovin – Zobnin. They are the most useful workhorses of this team, they've run more than others. In other words, they are physically prepared. But evaluating the possibility of the departure of these players to Europe, I should remind they have contracts with their clubs, which, firstly, also must be respected. Secondly, the clubs they belong to make a decision. It's not correct to say same CSKA destroys the player's career by offering a €30 million price tag. The club's interests also matter.

It's already good there's been demand for our players. Because once nobody was needed. We saw Dzagoyev and other players sit out in Russia.

A big role in the squad's success belongs to the couple Golovin – Zobnin

Is everything good in our football? No, of course

Does the squad's result mean everything is good in our football, in general? No, of course. Two teams of the Russian Football Premier League Amkar and Tosno are stopping their existence during the WC. The latter is the reigning owner of the Russian Cup. Let's call a spade a spade. 59 teams of the Russian Professional Football League (the 3 rd football division in Russia) have stopped existing in the last time. In our country, football isn't able to live without state football support.

Now we almost don't have private clubs. But I think they will face a salary cap sooner or later anyway. It was done in KHL, football will also have to do it. It's unknown so far how.

To develop football from scratch

But one can always find the pros among the cons. The WC in Russia and the performance of our national team can give an impulse to some necessary steps that can rehabilitate our football. Obviously, we should start with the foundation. In other words, football among kids. During the WC, kids were happy about additional football classes at school. People have been talking about it for long but do nothing. It's also time to raise salaries for kids' coaches and, consequently, choose more qualified ones. In other countries, kids' coach is a prestigious and well-paid profession. Like everywhere, football should be developed from scratch.

Evaluating the 2018 WC, in general, it's a surprise there haven't been any scandals, fights and other dirty things. Volunteers have worked well, and children from orphanages have been made happy, they have been allowed to play in Red Square. This festivity must remain in everybody's heart. What else will give an impulse if not this?

By Aleksey Safonov. Photo: