Preview: FC Bayern Munich – FK Rostov
It all comes down to one man who already brought success to Rubin Kazan during his coaching period for 12 straight years. His name is Kurban Berdyev. His biggest achievements are for example the first two national championship titles, as well as the first cup win ever in Kazan’s history. In 2009 he even managed to beat the furious FC Barcelona under Pep Guardiola away at Camp Nou with 2-1.
In 2013, when his time at Kazan terminated, he must have had unlimited options. Many were speculating whether he was keen on taking a job outside of Russia to test himself in Europe. In the end his decision was quite a surprise. His new challenge was still in Russia, but at a club that was only a few bad results short of being relegated – FK Rostov.
The club was at this point in a disastrous condition regarding all aspects including sport, finances and organisation. Berdyev managed to avoid relegation by establishing a new system. In a 3-5-2 formation the team gained more and more structure and remained in Russia’s first division. Just one year later it was only ZSKA Moscow who were able to prevent Berdyev’s team from winning its first national championship. A story that simply tells how much quality Kurban Berdyev has.
With only 20 goals conceded the team suddenly had the best defensive in the whole of Russia. One year before they conceded more than double the amount of goals (51). The massive change of FK Rostov is also linked with several transfers, which are likely to only be possible because of Berdyev himself. Players like Christian Noboa, Sardar Azmoun and César Navas, who are vital for the team stressed that the main reason they are playing at Rostov is simply because of Berdyev. The processes during the summer demonstrate this quite well.
Unfortunately the coach quit just after the sensational away win at Anderlecht in the Champions League qualification, because of overdue payments and no further perspective. As a result Noboa and some other players spoke publicly about leaving the club as well.
Dmitri Kirichenko, assistant coach under Berdyev, was named head coach of FK Rostov, but then the whole story turned weird. Kurban Berdyev surprisingly stayed involved as well. Nobody knows what exactly he is currently doing, but there is no denying the fact that he has some kind of influence on the team. Especially the games vs. Ajax Amsterdam have shown that. FK Rostow won the away game with 4-1.
It seems that Berdyev is some kind of advisor for the club. Furthermore since September 9th Kirichenko is not the head coach anymore, but the assistant coach of Ivan Daniliants. Daniliants former position? Assitant coach under Berdyev. Additionally Beryev might be up and running for the position of vice president at Rostov in the 2017 elevtion (source: Transfermarkt.de). He already filled the positions of head coach and vice president at his former club Kazan. The whole thing looks highly controversial from the outside, but for Rostov it might be quite beneficial. To maintain someone like Berdyev must be a positive signal for the club and his surroundings despite all the negativity in other areas.
Like we already mentioned the main focus lies on the defensive abilities. The success in the previous season resulted from a flexible system with 3-5-2 in possession and 5-3-2 against the ball. The team shifts quite smartly and tries to outnumber the opponent on the wings. Usually there is one full-back attacking in combination with the support of a midfielder or striker who is positioned nearby.
Additionally the centre of the pitch is compact as well. The main responsibility lies on Cesar Navas as well as Christian Noboa who is the crucial player for the team.
When gaining possession they try to initiate counter attacks over the wings in combination with Sardar Azmoun who scored two times in the Champions League qualification. Even their playing abilities should not be underestimated. Noboa is always able to create something or call the right signals at the right time.
But there are also some weaknesses Bayern may be able to exploit. Especially on a high level Rostov struggles to maintain its structure. If it is possible for Bayern to improve their positioning and create spaces between the lines, it will get dangerous for FK Rostov. The circulation of the ball will be one key element on Tuesday as well as creating triangles in the half spaces. To counter the pressure on the wings it may be possible to exploit the given spaces and get behind their last line of defence.
A lot depends on how confident Bayern is playing when in possession. Certainly the tactic as well as individual quality will be a huge factor in the upcoming matchup. One-on-one duels are also important against a five at the back formation. Maybe there will be two real wingers for the first time under Carlo Ancelotti to support Lewandowski and Müller who are crucial in games like this. There is always some sort of struggle against teams who are structured quite well with their main focus on defence so that scoring early in the game should be the aim.
Another interesting aspect will be how the Bavarians work against the ball. Due to the fact that Rostov likes to play counter-attacking football the backward motion should be fast and organized. Considering the last few games this worked quite well to be honest, although there were some small mistakes in the game vs. Schalke, which could have cost some points in the end.
To summarize the game vs. Ajax Amsterdam showed what Rostov is capable of. FC Bayern are certainly the clear favourite in this game, but Rostov will try to make it as hard as possible to win. The fact that Berdyev still is involved does not make it easier as well. An early goal might be the key for a successful start to the Champions League 2016/2017.