Manuel Veth –
The Confederations Cup will kick off in exactly two months. Russia’s head coach Stanislav Cherchesov announced his 30-player preliminary squad on Monday. Of the 30 players nominated in Russia’s Confederations Cup squad, Fenerbahçe’s Roman Neustädter is the only player, who is not playing in the Russian Football Premier League. Also included in the team is CSKA Moscow’s Brazilian-born defender Mario Fernandes, who will finally be eligible to play for the Sbornaya during the tournament.
Russia’s Confederations Cup Squad
Cherchesov has until June 6 to reduce the squad to 23 players. The Futbolgrad Network has taken a closer look at Russia’s Confederations Cup squad and determined who could be in or out when Cherchesov makes his final squad announcement.
Cherchesov has nominated Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Belenov (Ufa), Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow), and Andrei Lunev (Zenit). The final squad will be trimmed to include just three goalkeepers.
CSKA Moscow goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will be guaranteed a sport, which means that the other three keepers will be fighting for the two remaining spots. One of the other favourites is Andrei Lunev, who joined Zenit Saint Petersburg during the winter break from Ufa, and has since established himself as the starting goalkeeper in Saint Petersburg. Lunev has been a stabilizing force for Zenit since being created by head coach Mircea Lucescu as the keeper of departure, and playing top minutes at a top club can only support his cause.
The remaining position will, therefore, be a battle between Guilherme, and Belenov. Belenov replaced Lunev at FC Ufa during the winter, and his performances have been a bit inconsistent. Guilherme in the meantime backstopped Lokomotiv to the Russian Cup title, which could give him a slight edge come decision day.
Cherchesov has called up ten defenders: Roman Neustädter (Fenerbahçe), Andrei Semenov (Terek Grozny), Ilya Kupetov (Spartak Moscow), Ruslan Kambolov (Rubin Kazan), Giorgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow), Viktor Vasin (CSKA Moscow), Fedor Kudryashov (FC Rostov), Mário Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit Saint Petersburg), and Roman Shishkin (Krasnodar).
How many defenders will ultimately be cut depends on Cherchesov’s tactical priorities. But given that most tournament squads are composed of three goalies, eight defenders, eight midfielders, and four strikers we can assume that two players will ultimately face the cut.
What stands out is that Russia’s defence will finally undergo a generational change. Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski are both absent from the squad, and Sergei Ignashevich retired from the Sbornaya after the European Championships in France. With Fernandes finally available Zenit’s Smolnikov could be one player facing the cut, and another candidate could be Ruslan Kambolov, who might fall victim to Rubin’s poor season.
In midfield Cherchesov has nominated eleven players: Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Zobnin (Spartak), Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Dmitri Tarasov (Lokomotiv), Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA), Aleksandr Samedov (Spartak), Dmitri Kombarov (Spartak), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit), Aleksandr Erokhin (Rostov), and Aleksei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv).
In midfield, much will depend on the fitness of CSKA midfielder Alan Dzagoev. The central midfielder has struggled all season with muscle injuries, and there are doubts whether he will be fit in time for the tournament. Cherchesov could even choose to rest Dzagoev for next summer’s tournament. Whether Dzagoev will make the final cut will have a significant impact on the likes of Dmitri Tarasov, and Yuri Gazinskiy, who could be cut should Dzagoev remain with the squad.
Cherchesov has nominated the following forwards: Maksim Kanunnikov (Rubin Kazan), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar), Artem Dzyuba (Zenit), Dmitri Poloz (Rostov), and Aleksandr Bukharov (Rostov).
Of the forwards nominated only Smolov, Dzyuba, and Poloz can be guaranteed a place in the team. Whether Kanunnikov and Bukharov make the cut will be likely determined on how many strikers Cherchesov wants to take to the tournament.
Ultimately Cherchesov will have to cut Russia’s Confederation Cup squad to 23 players, and it will be interesting to see, who will be in, and who will be out when Russia kicks off the tournament on June 17 in Saint Petersburg.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com, and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.