World Cup One to Watch: Aleksandr Golovin – Russia
All eyes will be on Russia’s performance at this summer’s finals. Can young starlet Aleksandr Golovin rise to the occasion?
Born in Kaltan, Russia, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Golovin is the focus of RealSport’s ‘One to Watch’ from Russia’s World Cup squad.
With 17 caps and two goals for his international team, the youngster is touted as being a future star on the world scene with links to the Premier League already materialising.
Having proved an instrumental part of CSKA Moscow’s side over the past four seasons, the 21-year-old is looking to make his mark on the national side.
Where better place to do this than your home World Cup?
With five goals in his 27 appearances this season for CSKA Moscow, Aleksandr Golovin is establishing himself as one of the finest young talents in world football.
CSKA Moscow finished just two points shy of the champions Lokomotiv Moscow, leaving the Koni having to settle for the runners-up position in back-to-back campaigns.
Despite the fact that Champions League football has been assured for the 2018-19 season, two years without the Russian Premier League title will hurt for the oldest football club in Russia.
Golovin started 26 of CSKA’s 30 league games with one appearance coming on as a substitute. Goals against Arsenal Tula and Tosno in 6-0 demolitions as well as the first goal in a 3-0 victory over Akhmat Grozny pad the league record of Golovin slightly.
However, the youngster truly made his mark in the Europa League this season. Goals against Lyon and Arsenal – a beautiful guided free kick from the edge of the box – have raised the stock of the midfielder on a world stage. His appetite for the big occasion also bodes well for the World Cup ahead.
With his two goals spanning three years of international football, Aleksandr Golovin’s importance to this side could easily be undervalued on first viewing. The truth is, Golovin – along with Igor Akinfeev and Aleksandr Smolov – is one of the first names on the Russian team sheet going into the World Cup.
Most likely sitting to the right of a midfield three, the youngster has demonstrated maturity of the highest level during his 17 caps for the senior team.
Another feather in Golovin’s cap is the 2013 European Under-17s title that he won in 2013. Despite being substituted in the final against Italy, Golovin played an integral role in that title-winning side, setting the foundations to move up the age groups before eventually making his senior team debut in 2015.
This debut would also yield Golovin’s first international goal after just 16 minutes against Belarus.
A month ago, Russia were expected to line up at in a 3-5-2 formation with Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksandr Samedov acting as flying wingbacks, supporting the two strikers Aleksei Miranchuk and Aleksandr Smolov.
In this system, Golovin’s role at the right of a midfield three involves tracking the opposition’s midfield runners, as well as creating the vital link up play with Samedov and the two forwards.
However, with Stanislav Cherchesov switching to a 4-4-1-1 formation in recent fixtures, Golovin could find himself in a midfield two alongside Roman Zobnin.
Expect the youngster to pick up the ball in midfield areas and drive at opposition defences, looking to isolate defenders into one-on-one situations.
In addition, Golovin has shown his craft and guile in dead ball situations over the past couple of seasons. Anything close to the edge of the penalty area will interest Golovin.
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