Cherchesov: We needed a victory and did not want to stand still on the defensive end

Russia's national football team suffered a 1-4 defeat in UEFA Euro 2020 qualification match against Belgium in St Petersburg. Russia's national football team coach Stanislav Cherchesov took questions from journalists at a press conference that followed after the match:

- I agree that the Belgian side scored their goals quite easily. We knew how the Belgium national was going to play. You may remember that we conceded our first goal in away match in Brussels after a rapid attack as well. This time, we did not want to stand still on the defensive end as we needed a 2-0 victory. And we also wanted to test ourselves. I have already been asked if we rather had 5 or 7 defenders on the pitch. But we were planning to play our own football against Belgium. We were critized for defensive tactics at World Cup 2018 and now we are criticized for a more offensive approach. We would have played differently if team standings suggested otheriwse. Belgium is a top level team that used any free space to score their goals. On the other hand, we enjoyed greater possession, according to the statistics. We all know the score and everybody concerned knows where they underperformed. I am not here to critize or lecture. The players need specific instructions concerning what they need to do next time to prevent these mistakes from happening again. My task is to take a correct view of the situation, rather than critize, then change things for the better next time.

- You enjoyed a 55% possession and that is quite unusual for teams playing against Belgium. It has been quite a while since the last time Belgium did not dominate the ball. Do you think it is a better idea to let Belgium dominate?

- Are you asking this question on my colleague Martinez' request? We will most likely end up in the same group at Euro 2020! Things will get less dramatic if I answer in details now. And it is better to keep from playing against Belgium at all (laughs).
On a more serious side, this match was no experiment. We needed a victory to top our group. And I realized that was a risk. So we need to look for other arguments in our matches against top level teams. Physical preparedness, which was our advantage at the World cup, is also very important. I think we underperformed in terms of physical preparedness tonight.

- Whan can you say about substitute Zelimkhan Bakaev's appearance? It looked like not many crosses came through on his side.
- Bakaev came out excellently and there was a lot of activity on the left. I don't think that the right side was much busier.

- Russian players will not add much up to their skills in the few months remaining until the Euro. Apart from physical preparedness, what can we offer to win the Euro?
- I can only reiterate what I had already said. But everybody understand this in the way they want anyway. So, we have qualified to Euro along with many other teams. And I said that it was our desire to show our top performance and try to win the tournament. It is hard to predict what is going to happen in half a year's time. Euro 2020 final draw will take place in Bucharest on the 30th of November and we will know other teams in our group. We will then need to make accurate estimates and build up our team of relevant players.

- How did you like fan support in St Petersburg?
- Tonight is not the first time we have played in St Petersburg. We have been here for the Confederations Cup and for the World Cup matches as well. So we are well familiar with St Petersburg and we like it here.

- Aleksander Dyukov said that he made a new contract proposal to you. Did you have time to review it?
- I have had the contract at home for some years now. There are certain clauses that provide for an automatic extension. If something new is proposed, I will definitely know about it. The only thing to change about the contract is the termination date because the current version expires in summer while World Cup 2022 was shifted to winter. That is the only thing to change. All World Cups were taking place in summer when the contract was signed.

- Will the players now play the field in San Marino after this 1-4 defeat?
_ I will have to provide a commonplace answer to this. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see each player's condition. Things are not as simple as they may look from the outside. It will be a lie to say that San Marino is a team of the same level as Belgium. But a rival team nevertheless. And we have to stand ready for the match.


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