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Last week the Sensible Soccer scouting report identified Aleksandr Golovin as one of the ones to watch in Russia and in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup he certainly lived up to his star potential. With a move to Juventus in the pipeline prior to the start of the World Cup, Golovin became a more recognized name after his showing against Arsenal in the Europa League and there is no doubt he now has more eyes on him and a higher price tag.
Golovin has come into the World Cup with the star-boy tagline from Russia with initial developments in his career being compared to another CSKA academy graduate, Alan Dzagoev. In an ironic twist of fate, it took a Dzagoev injury in the early moments of the Saudi Arabia game to allow Golovin to take the reins and welcome us all to the 2018 World Cup.
Golovin started on the left of a somewhat narrow 4-2-3-1 structure with the prominence of roaming centrally to overload Saudi’s compact 4-5-1 shape. However, with Dzagoev’s early exit because of injury and the introduction of Denis Cheryshev, Golovin’s base position altered to a roaming #8/10 operating centrally and manipulating the mid-block of what was admittedly a rather dysfunctional side for this level of football in Saudi Arabia.
Golovin’s interpretation of an attacking midfielder differs to that of a regular #10 as he possesses a stature which gives him the opportunity to compete physically and receive in tight areas with his back to goal. Whilst not blessed with natural pace, he is also content with accessing space and operating in wide areas and functioning as a 1v1 player where he relies on his maneuvering of his body position, directional changes and two footed ability to evade any possible danger. In match one Golovin displayed a comfortable array of passing, support play and directed play in a forwards manner from wherever he picked up the ball and with regular consistency.
All the way through his development from youth level for club and country to first team, Golovin has taken responsibility for set-piece scenarios, he scored at the 2013 U17 World Cup from a direct free-kick, and has generated assists at first-team level from set-pieces accentuating his competences from such circumstances. In the Europa League against Arsenal he notched a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box, and yet again in the opening game of the World Cup he rounded off an already impressive performance with an almost identical set-piece to add to his 2 assists already in the game.
Like many #10s, Golovin thrives in transition and is proficient in creating influential chances whilst an oppositions structure is altered. Aleksandr Golovin has shown the promise and aptitude of becoming a key player in this year’s World Cup on the back of a profitable season with CSKA Moscow with Juventus looking like being a front-runner for the Russian. Aleksandr Golovin vs. Saudi Arabia – by Numbers - 66 Touches - 25/35 Passes (71% Accuracy) - 5 Chances Created - 4/6 Tackles - 3 Interceptions - 1 Dribble - 2 Assists - 1 Goal (1 Shot)