On 21st of June 2016 Russia national team players returned home on a plane from France after devastating defeat against Wales. It was a controversial championship for the national team, there was controversial squad, controversial formation and everything went wrong, definitely not as planned. The result was one point in a group stage, 6 conceded goals and several scandals that involved Russian football players subsequently.

Aleksandr Golovin did not take part in Mamaev's and Kokorin's party (FC Krasnodar and FC Zenit respectively) in Monaco, following the championship. Golovin just replied to the cameraman in the airport that he "…is not ashamed".

Of course, one interview that consist of a pair of words and several mediocre matches in national team squad, where nobody was decent, is not a decisive tragedy. However, human brain remembers and puts to the memories brightest (or ugliest) events. E.g. strikers are the most expensive people in a football world as their contribution is on the scoreboard and therefore remembered. However, fact remains a fact; Golovin's transfer cost, according to Transfermarkt, fell by a third from three Mln. Euros up to two. In addition, there were no more rumors that top Europe clubs were interested in Aleksandr Golovin.

Date of birth
Nationality Club
Shirt number
Transfermarkt cost
Left midfielder/ defensive midfielder/ central midfielder
180 cm
69 kilos
3 Mln. €
Generally, it turned out well. Golovin desperately needed one more year to become one of the best players in RFPL. And he got this year in CSKA working together with two magnificent coaches: Leonid Slutskiy and Viktor Goncharenko who replaced the previous one. If last year's success can be explained, to my mind, by a great team brought together in CSKA(Wernbloom, Dzagoev, Natcho in the centre of midfield, Tosic, Eremenkoand Shirokov in attacking line, Musa with his great finishing skills), this year a number of players for one reason or another are not present. Alan Dzagoev is struggling to overcome his old injuries(43 games last season, 3370 minutes on the pitch and 17 games this season – 1196 minutes on the pitch), Musa left to Leicester, EPL, Roman Eremenko was disqualified from all of the competitions due to a drug scandal, Roman Shirokov finished his career and studies to become a sports manager. Vitinho, Milanov and Ionov are more than decent players, but they are not able to restore that particular mechanized level of getting a proper result. Therefore, Aleksandr Golovin is becoming a true CSKA leader successively.

Aleksandr Golovin changed his position on the pitch this season. Last year he worked on the wings of attack: more often on the left, less often on the right, sometimes in the center; - but this year in Goncharenko's 5-3-2 formation, he is a second defensive midfielder, paired with Pontus Wernbloom. And if in national team on Euro-16 being a defensive midfielder he looked at least poor, so this year his game is sensational.

Inspired by his progress, we went to the match against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Aleksandr Golovin entered the game as left wingback in a 5-3-2 scheme. On his wing, he had to act defensively against Manuel Fernandes, unconditional leader of Lokomotiv Moscow at the moment, and when CSKA had possession, he had to take on Renat Yanbaev. He managed to get a rebound, crossed on Ionov, who lacked a bit of skill to shoot. Also Aleksandr Golovin tried to dribble past Yanbaev, but lost a ball to Tarasov (DM) who came in time. But, what interesting during these 5 seconds while Tarasov tried to pass the ball, Ari tried to get it and play back to Alexey Miranchuk, Golovin returned to the defense and was covering the space, entrusted to him. However, as they say, who has never tasted bitter, knows not what is sweet. Maicon, Lokomotiv's winger, when loses the ball, slows the tempo, calms down, and suggest that defense is something other teammates should do.

On 13th minute of the game, Golovin opened himself once again, got the ball, decided to check Lokomotiv's and Russian national team's goalkeeper Guilherme and shot accurately right to the corner of the goal. Guilherme could not fix the ball, and so Golovin fetched a corner to CSKA. Not bad for a shot from 30 meters.

On 16th minute, Golovin transferred the ball from his left flank to penalty area seeing Mario Fernandes (CSKA's right wingback) and charged forward, found an open space, offered himself and flicked on the ball with the left leg after a complicated cross, hitting a post.

On 17th minute, injured Dzagoev was substituted with a left back Kirill Nababkin and Aleksandr Golovin shifted to the center of the pitch. And after just two minutes he began to fight for the ball, working from the deep, forced Lokomotiv's players to lose the ball in a duel, and found Ionov with a square pass, organizing a counterattack practically on his own.

On 23rd minute, he did not allow bulky Tarasov squeeze into 18-yard box, shielding him with his body, he stopped a massive defensive midfielder. And that was done by a boy of 20 years, weighting 69 kilos. Next 20 minutes of match, he continued pressing Lokomotiv, kept them off penalty area, forcing them to play through the wings. When he tackled badly and was dribbled over, Golovin immediately reacted, ran back and started to keep a man in front of him once again.

On 38th minute, when Vitinho was netting a goal, I would like Aleksandr to run into flank, drew defenders, created space, offered himself as an additional option. However, the goal was scored even without Golovin's contribution.

Nevertheless, on 44th minute, Aleksandr managed to take his chance. He picked up the ball after Igor Denisov (DM) and Tarasov together were unable to cope with Vitinho, accelerated, confused Kverkverlia (DC) with a feint, entered penalty area and bulleted the ball in the left lower corner again. It was 3-0 on the scoreboard by the halftime, and Lokomotiv refused to do anything meaningful on the pitch.

As a result, Aleksandr Golovin passed the ball 29 times, got 7 rebounds, shot 3 times, of which 2 were on goal, 3 times intercepted passes, 3 times dribbled the ball, and lost it only twice during the game. He was a man on the mission, an MVP of this match, battling everywhere he was present. His defensive and offensive actions were exemplary.

At first, you can think, that we are writing an ode, singing praises to Aleksandr Golovin. That is not true. He makes mistakes, he is not ideal yet. In a match against Spartak Moscow, first goal was scored after a goal pass of Ivelyn Popov, whom Aleksandr could not stop. Second goal was scored after the loss of possession in the center of the pitch, and Aleksandr was guilty. Of course, first mistake was critical and the second one was not, Viktor Vasin was responsible in the second goal, but still. Mistakes are mistakes.

Yet, Aleksandr's progress is worth talking about and being pointed out. Golovin doesn't give interviews often, but we learned that he spends his vacation with family and friends in the village somewhere in Kemerovo region (Siberia), doesn't like noisy parties and plays computer games during his free time. He is inspired by such players as Hazard and Kante, what is seen from his actions on the pitch. He is versatile enough. And such player, a jack-of-all-trades, who can be decisive in different areas of the field can be useful in numerous teams.
The biggest problem is that Aleksandr can become a hostage inside CSKA structure. Alan Dzagoev was discussed a lot 7 and 8 years ago, but he is 26 and still here. Everyone in Europe knew Igor Akinfeev's potential, but something did not work out and he is still a CSKA's player. Golovin can develop and he will develop next year, and a year after, but once RFPL skill ceiling will make itself felt. By that time, Golovin's cost will be around 15-20 Mln. Euros, and this cost will be unreasonable to various Europe teams. You can raise your own star player from Golovin, having in mind CSKA's financial problems emerged due to financial crisis and building of a new own stadium. Vyacheslav Karavaev left CSKA and become a valuable player in Sparta Prague. Can Aleksandr become a star-player? Certainly. He is well trained, studied and smart; he is a hard-working and ambitious person. He behaves like leader in his 20s, he prompts, gestures, he labors. Outside of the pitch, he is concentrated on the training sessions. He has great potential that must be developed. He mustn't become a CSKA's hostage.

Remembering this journalist and post-Euro's interview, we should say, Aleksandr should not be ashamed at all. He is soon-to-be MVP.

#Golovin #Russia #RFPL #nationalteam #CSKA #Lokomotiv

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