For two seasons we have been disgracing ourselves in Europe. In September 2020, there was still hope that before that, in 2019, there was a temporary failure, but in 2021 there are no more illusions. A complete understanding came that we were lagging behind. This is the deepest crisis, and it will take at least 5 years to get out of it. The reforms that are being discussed are late, their effect is impossible in the near future. And they are still under discussion.
The offensive departure of Sochi and Rubin in the qualification of the Best Male is a verdict in the odds table. We lost 12 matches in the Conference League group, which, given the current level of competition in the Champions League and the LE, is becoming the most realistic supplier of odds for countries outside the top 5.
Now we are almost guaranteed to drop below the 11th line at the start of next season and stay there. Championships outside the top 11 do not receive guaranteed places in either the Champions League or the LE. Alas, the beginning with the 1st or 2nd round of the Champions League and Best Club selection without guarantees of at least one representative in the group – this is a new reality for clubs from Russia after 3 seasons, just when reforms in European competitions are activated (expansion of the group stage, Swiss system, increased income, and so on).
Over the past 2 years, our team managed to lose to Lokomotiv from Tbilisi, Maccabi from Haifa, Neftchi from Baku, Wolfsberg from Austria, Ludogorets from Bulgaria, Ferencvaros from Hungary. Our tops proved to be uncompetitive against the background of Braga, Club Brugge, Salzburg, Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos.
No matter how offensive it may be, let’s fix it: we are in the ass, you can’t get out quickly. You need to settle down.
I’m scared before the start of the new season. Including because I know that the Russian players of our top clubs are totally unsure of themselves. This also applies to performances in Europe for the club, and games for the national team. The guys have no illusions, they understand how much the level of rivals has grown and their own has not grown. They are no less clearly aware of what they will be confused with if a new failure occurs.
True, we have collapsed so low recently that it is already quite difficult to determine what exactly will be a failure. Perhaps only the fourth place for all clubs in their groups with routing from favorites.
Zenit (Champions League)
- Opponents: Chelsea, Juventus, Malmo
Chelsea on another planet. The team takes the Champions League, and after that they are strengthened by Lukaku and Saul. Two powerful rosters, excellent Tuchel, aggressive style, applied pressure, physical strength and no counterarguments whatsoever for Zenit. Only the hope of a total underestimation from the opponent.
Juventus started the season very unsuccessfully, and so far there is no feeling that the team will be able to quickly improve. Those who expected it to be better without Ronaldo are very disappointed so far.
Start of Juventus in Serie A: Udinese (2: 2), Empoli (0: 1), Napoli (1: 2)
1 point and 16th place is not as surprising as 32% of possession against the far from trouble-free Napoli. It seems that I would like to publish that there are chances against such a Juve, especially since Zenit’s rivalry with Chelsea will be at home in the last round (will they solve all the problems?), But I immediately recall the departure from Lazio without the first players, and fingers stop.
Malmo are a tough opponent. Ready, running, extremely motivated. Passed 4 stages of qualification, knocked out including Rangers and Ludogorets. Are you sure that Zenit would have passed such a selection?
Expectations: Zenit plays well against Chelsea and especially against Juventus, takes 4-6 points from Malmo and moves to the Europa League. True, according to the new regulations, there will be a difficult junction with the second place of the LE group for the right to play in the ⅛ finals, but this is a distant story.
Spartak (Europa League)
- Opponents: Leicester, Napoli, Legia
Physically, Spartak’s players are ill-prepared for the season, they did not show anything against Benfica, they are unstable in the championship, and there was no improvement. It is a little encouraging that Rui broke himself and started playing 3-5-2, realizing that 4-2-3-1 this lineup does not pull. However, even with perfect readiness, Spartak would have looked like an outsider in such a group.
Leicester and Napoli are out of competition in terms of hand. The main favorites of the tournament according to the bookmakers. Leicester are already accustomed to European competitions, they know how to distribute forces for the championship and the LE, the clip will definitely be enough. Strongly strengthened in the summer at the expense of the leaders of strong clubs:
- tsop Sumare – “Lille”;
- for example Dhaka – Salzburg;
- tsz Westergaard – Southampton;
- winger Luckmann – Leipzig.
“Napoli” will not sacrifice the tournament either, everyone in Europe clearly realized that the competition within the leagues is too serious to score in the LE and deprive themselves of safety net. Spalletti’s line-up is – you know: Mertens, Insigne, Osimhen, Ruiz, Coulibaly and so on.
Legia won the last 2 championships in Poland, this is a better team compared to Rakuv, which Rubin nailed. True, the Poles are now pouring in in the championship (16th place after 5 matches: 2 wins – 3 losses).
Expectations: successful fight with Legia for 3rd place and transfer to the League of Conferences.
Lokomotiv (Europa League)
- Opponents: Lazio, Marseille, Galatasaray
A very unpredictable group. On the one hand, Nikolic is the most successful RPL coach in European competition, you definitely expect more from Loko than from Spartak. On the other hand, the team was re-assembled, left without a leader, Krykhovyak, and the level of all rivals and coaches is the Champions League.
Lazio Sarri released Joaquim Correu to Inter in the summer, but expanded the bench with Pedro, Husay, Basic and Felipe Anderson. The Romans lacked the depth of the composition. The club has definitely not become weaker compared to last season, when it played in the ⅛ of the Champions League final.
“Marseille” Sampaoli has been very much updated, serious money has been invested in the team. They own the second most expensive transfer in Ligue 1 (after Hakimi) – Gerson Santosh from Flamengo (25 million). Plus Milik, Under, Arit, Genduzi, Saliba, Lirola. A very serious team.
Terim’s Galatasaray will also be in the race. Falcao left, only Feguli, Babel, Turan and Muslera remained of the retired stars, but there is a strong backbone of promising guys who were recruited for sale this summer. Almost in the style of Rangnik’s Lokomotiv.
Expectations: fight with Galatasaray for 3rd place and move to the League of Conferences. With the hope that Loko is capable of more.
- Tuesday, 21:45 Moscow time, Chelsea – Zenit;
- Wednesday, 16:55 Moscow time, Spartak – Legia;
- Thursday, 19:30 Moscow time, Lokomotiv – Marseille.