Railway thriller: "Lokomotiv" does not play without "cradles"
After the end of the match of the 20th round of the Premier League, in which Lokomotiv gnawed out a strong-willed victory over Krasnodar 3:2, losing after the first half 0:2, an old banal phrase was annoyingly spinning in my head - if only such a team in our football If it didn't exist, it would be worth inventing it. Because it is precisely such clubs and such games that give real emotions to all fans of the number one sport. Sometimes happy, sometimes vice versa.
Last fall, after the end of the first part of the championship, it seemed that everything was over for Lokomotiv this season. And all that remains is to trudge dejectedly to the predetermined sad finish, preparing for the play-offs, or even for the “cleansing” by the First League. Where the railroad had every chance to fly, given how they played. Although it would be more correct to say - they did not play. Both the captain of the Barinov team and the rest of the players constantly apologized to the fans, honestly admitting that they themselves do not understand the reasons for such a weak-willed and senseless football that they show. It seemed that only a miracle could save Lokomotiv.
And it happened.
The path to rebirth
In fact, you should not think that everything really happened at the behest of Fortuna, who suddenly approached Loko. Because the pit, from which the team is now getting out with such heroic efforts, was dug by its leadership itself. It all started on July 6, 2021, when the German Ralf Rangnick was appointed head of the club for sports and development. Which three months later, on October 6, fired head coach Marko Nikolic, who started the championship wonderfully - victories over CSKA, Krasnodar, a draw with Zenit and French Marseille in the Europa League. Instead, they took Markus Gisdol, Rangnik's former assistant at Hoffenheim. And Loko went downhill. On the way, painfully parting with Ragnik, Gisdol and some players.
It would seem that everything is clear. But no, the team continued to be led by the companions of the departed Ragnik - Marvin Comper and Josef Zinnbauer. The German grouping from the leadership of Loko was finally uprooted only on October 8, 2022 after a crushing defeat from Sochi 0:4. By that time, the railway workers were already in 14th place in the standings. It was necessary to find such a specialist who could pull Lokomotiv out of the swamp just like Munchausen pulled himself out of the swamp by the hair.
And such a person was found.
New coach and players
Experts and journalists, of course, predicted venerable luminaries of our coaching workshop for the post of head coach. First of all, naming Yuri Pavlovich Semin, who has already saved his native team more than once. Know the management of the club, also updated, by the way, had its own candidate - the head coach of the youth team and "Nizhny Novgorod" Mikhail Galaktionov. Moreover, the red-green bosses were so confident in this candidacy that they even managed by hook or by crook to convince the Nizhny Novgorod governor (according to some media and telegram channels) to let the specialist go to Moscow despite the long-term contract and the team formed for him in Nizhny Novgorod.
I won’t brag, but Galaktionov wrote about the wonderful coaching and human qualities before the start of this season in a separate article. What caused the surprise of colleagues - why I single out this specialist, because Fedotov, and Osinkin, and Storozhuk, and Vasilenko, and Talalaev deserve no less attention. As it turned out - not in vain. And in Lokomotiv, as earlier in Nizhny Novgorod, Galaktionov managed to assemble a combat team capable of turning the situation around 180 degrees. Including building such difficult players as Artem Dziuba and Igor Smolnikov into the team. Plus Pinyaev, Lantratov, Glushenkov. And "Locomotive" slipped through the "catching dead end" of the championship, went, gaining momentum, from victory to victory.
Thriller in Cherkizovo
Having won a convincing victory in the first spring round in Rostov, where Dziuba did not deny himself the pleasure of hitting the gates of Valery Karpin's team three times, Lokomotiv then forced out a minimal victory in Grozny. Having defeated Akhmat with nine men, which is a miracle in itself. Showing character. Therefore, the match with Krasnodar in Cherkizovo was awaited with great impatience. After all, this season is also not easy for the Bulls, which means that the game will definitely not be boring. Moreover, the goalkeeper of Krasnodar Safonov missed the match - in the telegram channels they wrote that he had a coronavirus, the goalkeeper himself denied everything before the match. However, he, apparently, misses not only the meeting of the 20th round, but also two matches of the national team. It's a pity. But, back to football.
In the end, as everyone expected, it happened. The first half was spent in mutual attacks, but only Krasnodar managed to score. Yes, and Dziuba in the 45th minute failed to convert a penalty. Therefore, when the whistle sounded for a break, it was not very hard to believe that Lokomotiv would be able to win back from the score 0:2. It looked more like the history of the first round would repeat itself, when the Bulls defeated Loko 3:0.
But he did. And how! Because this is a different Lokomotiv. Two minutes after the break, Captain Barinov, after Pinyaev’s cross, hit the ball so deftly that it flew into the Krasnodar goal from Volkov’s foot.
Four minutes later, Dziuba and Glushenkov built the second goal for Loko, and Artem played exactly the way he knows best - powerfully pushing off the defenders and throwing the ball exactly where Maxim ended up. In fairness, it should be noted that this goal was not, if someone? -Pinyaev didn't "wind up" two Krasnodar players in the central circle and didn't start this scoring attack.
The winning point, which is quite logical, was put by Dziuba, who finished off the ball into the goal after Barinov hit the crossbar, to which Glushenkov made a pass.
After the game, Barinov said directly on television that during the break the team received a “luley” from Galaktionov, so they played differently. And Dzyuba generally gave the best analytics for the match.
"Well, this is some kind of thriller. You can shoot a movie based on the match. After the first half, there was disappointment, apathy and a depressing situation. But in the end everything turned out great. Thank you very much to the fans who came and supported us, drove us forward, great atmosphere," - said the striker to the press service of the RPL. And he went to give autographs to the young fans of Lokomotiv, who were waiting for him at the exit from the stadium. Which also says a lot.
Reflections at the curb
Mikhail Galaktionov is the first coach in the history of Lokomotiv, who started work with three victories in a row in the Russian Championship. Moreover, the coach is thinking and not afraid of responsibility. In the game with Krasnodar, after the break, he released Zhemaletdinov instead of forward Kamano, and in the last minutes of the match he changed him to 17-year-old Shchetinin. Which, in the end, saved Loko from the third goal, retaining such an important victory.
To avoid suspicions of bias, Mikhail Galaktionov has a flaw. It would be possible to replace Smolnikov, who ended up grabbing the second yellow card and depriving the team of the advantage - Ramirez also retired from the guests in the 63rd minute for the second yellow card and Loko was in the majority for nine minutes. Many red-green players were overwhelmed with emotions, as if they had gone too far with the “lyuli”.
And the Cup didn't work either. It must be hard to fight on two fronts. But it was painfully absurd (it’s hard to find a word for something else) that turned out to be a defeat from the team of the first division of Akron. The spring of 2022 immediately came to mind. when in 1/8 of the Cup the railway workers were defeated by Enisey 0:4.
Not only Galaktionov was embarrassed in the Cup, but also his superiors. Moreover, the embarrassment came out all the more deafening, which was accompanied by a scandal with Barinov's unauthorized participation in the match. Who went through the cards in previous games. Not the first time, incidentally, in recent times. As a result, Lokomotiv publicly reproached the RFU and punished its employee. In response, the RFU also publicly pointed out to the team management the need to carefully read incoming correspondence and live by one's own mind. After that, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the club, Yuri Nagornykh, told Match TV that the results of an internal investigation into the situation with Barinov in the Cup match would be presented in the near future. Which he himself considers "inadmissible."
So it turns out that I want to praise Loko, but I'm afraid - all of a sudden it will go off the rails again and rush somewhere into the unknown distance. Even with such a talented coach as Galaktionov and such a powerful team that he managed to put together.