Posted: 05.06.2024 12:25:00

Entire team on the front foot

Belarus’ and Russia’s national football teams promise to put on a clinic

On June 7th, the Dinamo Minsk Stadium will host a match, which stands out from others and has every reason to be marked as special and extraordinary. The Russian national football team with the strongest line-up is going to visit the Belarusian national team.

Vladislav Morozov, who joined Portugal’s Arouca in winter, was among the most noticeable players on the field in last year’s
matches with Israelis. On June 11th, the national teams of Belarus and Israel will play again, this time — in Hungary.      REUTERS

Presumably, there is no need to remind anyone once again about the current state of affairs in global sports. Russia’s membership in FIFA and UEFA has been suspended ‘until further notice’, which means that Russian clubs and national teams do not have the right to compete under the auspices of these organisations and, therefore, have found themselves in a difficult situation of almost complete isolation. Belarus has been allowed to compete in international matches, yet with severe restrictions. Thus, our national team and club sides have been banned from playing matches at home by UEFA and are required to play home matches at neutral venues, with no spectators allowed to attend matches in which the teams from Belarus feature as host. Due to this, Belarusian football players have not played on the home field with the support of their fans for as many as three years, the last time being in June 2021, when Belarus hosted guests from Azerbaijan for a friendly match at the Dinamo Stadium. Since then, the national squad has had a lot of matches but it has not always been possible to watch them, even via TV broadcasts. Therefore, the Friday evening on June 7th is so eagerly anticipated. The start of the game is scheduled for 8pm to make sure everyone interested can get to the stadium on time. Moreover, both teams are going to play with their strongest squads.  
The 2023-24 Russian Premier League has finished recently, and experts have unanimously called it the most powerful, interesting and unpredictable throughout all sovereign years. The intrigue persisted until the last round, and it was not clear who would make up the top three medallists and who would leave the top division. As a result, the medals were distributed as follows: Zenit Saint Petersburg won gold, Krasnodar secured silver, Dynamo Moscow got bronze, while Lokomotiv, Spartak and CSKA remained at the foot of the podium. Almost all matches were played at a high pace, and the skill level of the players and the entire championship proved to be very high — certainly not worse than the one at many vaunted European championships. It is worth noting that despite the bans and restrictions, the Russian national team continues to maintain a good form by holding friendly matches, and looks very good. Thus, last autumn, Valery Karpin’s charges defeated Cameroon, drew with Kenya, and made mincemeat of their opponents from Cuba — 8:0. They also made a lot of noise in March, having defeated quite unexpectedly a powerful Serbian team with a score of 4:0. That means that the Russians are coming to Minsk as undisputed leaders. However, it is believed that the Belarusian football players together with their Spanish coach Carlos Alós Ferrer know how to beat the trump cards of the favourites.  

Anton Miranchuk, who has recently become the Europa League winner, and his partners in the Russian national team in March
stood head and shoulders above the participant of the upcoming Euro 2024, the Serbia national football team — 4:0 

Of the main stars of Russian football, only Aleksandr Golovin, recognised as the best player of Monaco in the completed season, will not show up in Minsk. The midfielder has missed the final section of the French championship and keeps recovering from injury. Everyone else in Valery Karpin’s squad is on duty. The Russian national team’s composition is quite impressive and, if it were not for the sanctions, the players would probably be preparing for the final stage of the European Championship, which is around the corner. This fact makes it all the more interesting for the Belarusian team to match its strength with the powerful opponent. Matvey Safonov, who has recently finalised his transfer from Krasnodar to French Paris Saint-Germain FC (PSG) for €20 million, or Andrey Lunev, who is choosing at the moment where to continue his career — in Azerbaijan’s Qarabağ, where he previously played, or Dynamo Moscow, can play in the goal of the Russian national team. The main stars in midfield are the newly-minted Europa League winner as part of the Italian Atalanta, Aleksey Miranchuk, and Arsen Zakharyan from La Liga club Real Sociedad, Spain. They are joined by other solid players who surely know how to play football — Daler Kuzyaev, Anton Miranchuk, Ivan Oblyakov need no introductions. The same refers to centre-forwards Fedor Chalov and Konstantin Tyukavin, who will undoubtedly arrange a real terror for our defenders on the field. In general, it is going to be very interesting. 
The Belarusian national team features significantly fewer stars in contrast to the Russia’s ‘landing force’ that mainly consists of guys from FC Ural Yekaterinburg, who will have to fight in order to retain their position in the Elite League, and guys from FC Khimki, who have just won a ticket to the Premier League, the top tier of professional football in Russia. In this regard, resisting the Russian ‘shock battalion’ will be anything but simple. All the more exciting it will be to see what Belarusian football players and their legionnaire coach are capable of in action. There will definitely be someone to admire at the Dinamo Minsk Stadium.

By Sergei Kanashits