The first stage of the preparatory camp of the national team for the 2022 World Cup play-off match against Scotland has been completed. Alexander Petrakov’s team had three sparring matches. And all three are against club teams: Borussia Gladbach, Empoli and Rijeka. The matches turned out to be different – both in terms of score and, most importantly, in content. There is a reason and opportunity to put everything on the shelves.
1. The main thing: the players of the national team received the necessary game practice
The last match before the training camp in Slovenia was held by the Ukrainian team in November last year. That is, until May 11 – the day of the test match against Borussia Gladbach, exactly six months have passed. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, domestic football, as well as almost all other sectors of our life, turned out to be in a “groggy” state. The championship did not resume, only two clubs (Dynamo and Shakhtar) had game practice in the form of charity matches. In general, our collections (representing the UPL) were in a disparate physical and psychological state.
Therefore, it is logical that the main priority of the first training camp was the task of “loading” the players, giving them the opportunity to “get used to it.” I think that the team coped with this task. The coaching staff distributed the playing time approximately equally among all the players. If almost everyone played against Borussia, then in the matches with Empoli and Rijeka, which took place every other day, a rotation was carried out. I think the coaching staff received sufficient information at this stage. First of all, about the composition of the team.
2. Content: excellent, good, so-so
The first game within the framework of the training camp – against Borussia – turned out to be the most impressive. Although in this regard, everything is natural: the players missed the game, there was an emotional upsurge, there was a desire to show and prove themselves. They actually played from scratch. But they played with their “heart” too. It turned out aggressively, vertically, quickly. “It worked” Mudrik.
But then, it should be assumed, normal routine work began. The key word is “routine”. The guys “loaded” their legs, they were visibly tired. Therefore, subsequent games were already of a different content: first of all, they had less emotional intensity.
Game with “Empoli” – less speed (compared to the first match), more mistakes. And less pressure from our side. Opponents were “included” in the game only occasionally, that is, there was no feeling of “integrity” of the match. To be honest, a classic fight that is played at the off-season training camp.
This definition is even more suitable for the match against Rijeka. To be honest, it is not very clear why it was necessary to hold the match on the second day after the game in Italy, because it is clear that there will be very little speed and thought in it. Well, Petrakov knows better. Maybe they just didn’t agree on other dates.
In the game against Empoli, Pikhalyonok liked it. As in the match against the Germans. I also liked Yaremchuk. Well, everything is clear here.
Who did you like in the game against Rijeka? Garmash and Buyalsky. But, frankly, they were the best against a low background. In fact, the best of the “worst”, because ours did not show an impressive game.
3. Emotional: minus five players
Based on the results of the first three matches, the coaching staff decided to refuse the services of five players. They were Dynamo players Buyalsky, Garmash and Besedin, previously announced in our media, as well as Shakhtar defender Konoplya and Zorya midfielder Bulets.
Regarding the two “non-Dynamo” the situation is unambiguous. In my opinion: there are really stronger players in their positions in the national team. It is still too early for them to be considered the main players. But regarding the Kyiv trinity … To be honest, I personally think that everyone would be useful. Buyalsky is an unsurpassed (at our level) performer in the game “between the lines”, Garmash is an unsurpassed all-rounder, and Besedin is a fighter of the same character. Yes, each of them has serious competitors for a place in the composition, and there are flaws, but even those competitors are by no means sinless. For example, Petrakov preferred Besedin Sikan. The solution is clear, but debatable. And approximately the same can be said about Garmash and Buyalsky.
Although, of course, this topic initially smacks of taste and subjectivity. I would like to finish it, nevertheless, with the words of the head coach of the Ukrainian national team: “Decisions are always difficult, but such is football: the strongest survive here.”
4. Problematic: who, after all, will play in the center of defense?
In my opinion, the main personnel issue of the current Ukrainian national team is the center of defense. There are enough applicants for this important position, but each of them, it seems to me, is not yet distinguished by a model of reliability. And this is to put it mildly.
In the game against Borussia from the first minutes of the meeting, Zabarny and Matvienko played on the central “bridgehead”. There are questions about both. Zabarny and Popov came out against Empoli. It’s also not very clear. In the last sparring, Petrakov was marked by an even more experimental variation – Bondar – Kacharaba. Again, there are enough questions for them.
Let’s hope that with the arrival of all the legionnaires, especially the main central defender Mikolenko, our coaching staff will no longer need to experiment in defense. And it will need to be determined.
5. Promising: there should be other tasks and a different quality in the future
Soon all legionnaires will join the training camp of the national team. And the team will finally acquire the features of a “team” rather than a “team”. As far as I understand, there will be no more matches against club teams. Will be against national teams. Approximately May 23rd and 26th. It is clear that these fights will be considered with a clear focus on the game against Scotland. That is, they should have the necessary minimum of experiments, because they need to determine the starting lineup for the first game of the playoffs. I would like to believe that it is not the last.