Europa League Preview: Fastav Zlín – Lokomotiv Moscow

FC Fastav Zlín v Lokomotiv Moscow – Thursday, 7 December, 18:00 GMT – Ander Stadium, Olomouc.

Lokomotiv Moscow are under pressure before the last game of the Europa League group stage. Despite their dominance in the domestic Premier League, the Railroaders have been sloppy in Europe, and they are now in danger of elimination.

Lokomotiv will advance to the next round of the Europa League if:

  • They defeat Fastav.
  • They draw against Fastav and FC Copenhagen beats Sheriff Tiraspol exactly 1-0.

Lokomotiv’s group could actually end in a three-way draw with Lokomotiv, FC Copenhagen and Sheriff all finishing on nine points. In this article by Alexey Spektrowski, you can get the full low down on the different scenarios for the group and what Lokomotiv needs to do.

 

Tactical Analysis

Lokomotiv should enter this game with plenty of confidence. The team has won the previous four games, and they are comfortably sitting first in the Premier League. At the weekend, Lokomotiv pulled away from a difficult game against Rubin Kazan with a 1-0 victory, which ensured them the perfect warm-up to this fixture.

One of football’s most popular sayings is that one should never change a winning team. Therefore, head coach Yuri Semin is also expected to use his normal 4-2-3-1 formation against Fastav. Unlike most other teams who use this formation though, Semin’s team is highly dynamic, and players like Manuel Fernandes, Jefferson Fárfan and the Miranchuk twins are allowed to wander around the pitch in pursuit of open spaces. This makes it incredibly tough to play against Lokomotiv as the defenders will always need to stay alert. The four offensive players have furthermore developed an incredible understanding of each other.

Further down the pitch, the two defensive midfielders, usually Igor Denisov and Dmitry Tarasov, guard the defence and ensure the defensive stability. It is their hard work that allows the offensive players the freedom they need to blossom.

 

Team News

Lokomotiv remain without the injured trio Guilherme, Vedran Ćorluka and Ari.

Goalkeeper Guilherme has been out since the end of October. Albeit mistake prone, Guilherme remains one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League, and his replacement, Anton Kochenkov, doesn’t have the same high level.

Vedran Ćorluka has been out since the beginning of the year. The Croatian superstar is the captain of Lokomotiv, and he has been a crucial part of the defence for years now. However, Lokomotiv have gotten used to playing without him by now.

Lastly, Lokomotiv will have to do without Ari. The Brazilian striker picked up an injury in July and has been out ever since. Before his injury, Ari was an important part of the starting line-up.

 

Key Players

Aleksei Miranchuk – The 21-year-old midfielder has really improved this season. From being an exciting talent, Miranchuk has begun to take responsibility and he is now one of Lokomotiv’s leaders, both on and off the pitch. Miranchuk has simply been fantastic, and he is currently Lokomotiv’s top scorer with seven goals in the league.

Igor Denisov – The former UEFA Cup winner has plenty of experience from the biggest stage, and that shows. From his spot on the central midfield, he guides his teammates around, and one can always count on a top performance from Denisov.

Solomon Kverkvelia – The Georgian central defender is one of the best on his position in Russia. He combines all the traits a central defender should have, and a little extra, which makes him the perfect player for Lokomotiv. With Kverkvelia in the starting line-up, Semin knows that his goal is always in safe hands, and he can afford to gamble a little more.

 

Predicted Line-up

4-2-3-1: Anton Kochenkov – Vladislav Ignatiev, Saba Kverkvelia, Taras Mykhalyk, Vitali Denisov – Igor Denisov, Dmitri Tarasov – Anton Miranchuk, Aleksei Miranchuk, Manuel Fernandes – Jefferson Fárfan.

 

Match Prediction

Lokomotiv needs to finish the group stage in style, and anything but a victory against Fastav, who have nothing left to play for, is a disaster. Lokomotiv are significantly stronger on paper, and they should be able to pull away with the three points. This could even give them the first place if FC Copenhagen lives up to expectations and defeat Sheriff Tiraspol.

Fastav Zlín 0 – 2 Lokomotiv Moscow

Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

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