While normally we at Mediolana are more than pleased to announce the population of our main corporate portal with yet another exclusive article, our latest mediolana.com piece – You Bet, Commish: Reflections On Bart Chilton’s Educational Legacy – is tinged with sadness at the loss of its subject, the former Commodities Futures Trading Commission (‘CFTC’) doyen Bart Chilton (1960-2019); please do take a few moments out from your day to reflect on the educational legacy of this remarkable regulator-turned-broadcaster.
Tag Archives: russia
We at Mediolana are presently in the frontline of an unprecedented (for 2018, at least) heatwave which is sweeping through this company’s home town of London, England. But in truth, our spare thoughts capacity (‘STC’) has recently been in thrall to a different type of wave altogether – the Mexican type which is strongly associated with FIFA World Cups.
Specifically – as we try and keep at least one eye on the tournament while our little corporate world is undergoing something of a transformation (and we don’t mean the arrival of a new coffee machine or photocopier, great as these accoutrements are) – the theme of resilience, which has become such a leitmotiv in recent years that it almost inevitably raises the suspicion that large sections of the population are, in fact, losing it, is looming large in our consciousness.
A key feature of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was the extent to which matches were defined not just by factors such as player quality or coaching ingenuity, but by the psychological health (or otherwise) of teams. Could they avoid making palpably dodgy and needless back passes? Could they manage to stay in position instead of wandering upfield to no discernible purpose? And could they pull a rabbit from the hat when the chips were truly down?
To the probable surprise of many – but not us, truth be told – the 2018 FIFA World Cup is continuing the prove the importance of being able to handle stress, pressure and the simple knowledge that hundreds of millions of people are watching your every move. Without talent and hard work, there is no end product; but without the ability to make the most of what you have by being able to tune out noise on a simply incomparable scale, there may be no glory.
The media reaction to the 1st December 2017 Kremlin Palace draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals was dominated by the apparently benign group allocation handed out to England; however, this curious focus has only served to obscure the event’s Really Big Story – the probable elimination of the hosts less than two weeks into the competition.
Drawn in Group A, Russia will kick off the tournament with a relatively easy game against the notoriously inconsistent Saudi Arabians (14/06/2018), but their other pool opponents – Egypt and Uruguay, in that order – seem almost tailor-made to spoil the Russian party. Both these latter sides are respectively spearheaded by world-class strikers with pace to burn – Mohamed Salah and Luis Suárez – and have the personnel to soak up opposition pressure before launching decisive counterattacks; the contrast with a Russian national team which is characterised by overly-ponderous, predictable passing patterns and sluggish midfield runners could scarcely be sharper.
In normal circumstances, this sub-optimal prognosis would be par for the course: since its inception in 1992, the Russian national football team has only got into the knockout stages of a major tournament on a single occasion, when a stylish side inspired by the Arsenal and Zenit Saint Petersburg icon Andrey Arshavin finished a highly-creditable fourth at Euro 2008.
However, these are not normal circumstances: with Russia hosting the FIFA World Cup for the first time, another average group-stage exit would represent nothing short of a soft power catastrophe. Something therefore needs to change – but what? After some contemplation, we at Mediolana believe we have the makings of a master plan to spare Russian blushes at next year’s global party sans pareil:
- Press Fast Forward. Russia seem to flourish when they resist the temptation of taking the game to the other team and instead intermix snappy passing on the break with sitting moderately deep when not in possession. Crucially, their players have the technique to manoeuvre the ball in tight areas, so this attribute should be taken advantage of.
- Find Other Creative Outlets. Russia’s finals performances at recent tournaments have been crippled by the non-availability of Alan Dzagoev, a joint-top scorer at Euro 2012 who has developed a knack of running into injury problems at precisely the most inconvenient moments. While the presence of Dzagoev will still be critical to Russian success in 2018, drastic over-reliance on a single player is simply inexcusable given the size of Russia’s professional football base.
- Promote Youth. Russia presently have a clutch of midfielders and strikers – all of whom have excellent technical ability – populating their U21 squad. These players are exactly what is needed to enable the team to make the transition from lumbering liabilities to exponents of sultry and effective football. In particular, Fyodor Chalov and Timur Zhamaletdinov (CSKA Moscow), Zelimkhan Bakayev (Spartak-2 Moscow), Ayaz Guliyev (Anzhi Makhachkala), Rifat Zhemaletdinov (Rubin Kazan) and Ivan Oblyakov (FC Ufa) are all genuinely gifted individuals who should be given a chance to propel their country’s senior soccer collective to new heights.