Russia 3 Finland 0: old-school Finnish football is back!

Just last night I thought Finnish football had changed considerably as the U-21 team overturned a deficit to come out as victors against Austria, but little did I know. Tonight, Finland went down 3-0 against Russia and to make it Finnish enough, the first two goals were Finland’s own goals and Arshavin’s strike that settled the final score took a deflection of Markus Heikkinen.

It was men against boys really. The Finns had problems in all areas, starting from ball control. I still can’t find the words to explain how easily Roman Eremenko gave the ball to the Russians so that they could start the attack that resulted in the first goal. A bit later, Petri Pasanen had a great chance of clearing the ball in front of the empty net, but he managed to kick the ball into his own net. If Pasanen would have kicked the ball anywhere else the goal could have been avoided, but no can do. Veli Lampi’s own goal was very similar in principle.

The third goal was a job well done by Andrei Arshavin, but also silly defending on the part of the Finns. Arshavin strolled past both Hyypiä and Tihinen – and not passing Hyypiä first and then Tihinen, but he actually went through the space of about one metre that the full-backs had left between themselves. Just to make sure that the last player touching the ball would wear a blue shirt, Markus Heikkinen sprinted in to finish off Arshavin’s effort.

It was a deserved victory for Russia, as Finland’s performance was a miserable failure. They had no chances at all (well, aside the ones they used in their own end), the passing was dreadful with too many long balls and no-one had the decency to calm down the team when it was needed. Litmanen helped to some extent in holding on to the ball and trying to create chances, but he was only brought on ten minutes before the final whistle, when the score was already 2-0.

Over at Pelintekijä, Janne Oivio writes that the game was a “total disaster” and “even historical”, because “it is hard to come up with a Finland game played after the turn of the century that could be compared to this game”. That sounds harsh, but coming to think of it, I can’t remember too many fixtures like this one either. It looked like the Finns had already wet themselves before they ever came on the pitch.

I’ll edit this post later, treating you to Baxter’s thoughts and a highlight clip if one is available.


16 Responses

  1. This was really a disastrous match from Finland. Oikein hirveä! No fighting spirit. Physically and mentally extremely slow. No will. No attacks. No chances. Something like 75% false passes quote. How could this happen? Litmanen did more in 5+3 minutes than the rest of the team in 90+3. What did the coach tell the players before the match? That they won’t have a chance anyway, so they might as well don’t even bother trying? The match was broadcasted live on German TV, by the way. Man, I’m so p*ssed off. How shall Finland end up before the Germs at the end of the round? Is Dalla Valle soon old enough to play in the A-joukkue? 😉

  2. Well, you pretty much summarised what I was trying to say in the report. It might have been an important game, but the team didn’t seem to be very interested.

    The point that Finland would’ve got if they had drawn wouldn’t have been much, but the two points that Russia would have lost could have made a difference. Well, hopefully the Russians (or the Germans, sorry) will drop some points against Wales.

  3. Ugh.


  4. Russian fan in peace here. I think you gents are being a bit too harsh on Finland, who simply got on the wrong side of Russia after its close defeat by Germany on the weekend (that awful first period hurt their pride so they had to rebound). Russia didn’t have a perfect match either. I expect a much closer return game in Helsinki next year.

  5. It’s fan from Ruusia. Today was interest match. Of course I had known evenbefore te match that Finland hadn’t any chances. But I didn’t think that it will be 3:0.
    Of course Finland and wales Hasn’t any chances go to South Africa. You are too weak for that. But I hope that teams will help us to stop Germany. Russia it’ s country number one comand kinds of sports – hockey, basketball, volleyball, football. And we must get first line in our group finally. Germany – second)))

  6. vano, the Russians must have really wanted to win after they lost the Germany game. It was an important game indeed, and it’s no surprise that they had the spirit against Finland. However, Finland was very bad and Russia didn’t have to do their best. I think it was the kind of performance that would have helped Finland lose to Azerbaijan.
    But I agree with you, the Helsinki game should and must be different. Especially as it’s one of the last games of the group and if Finland do a professional job against Wales and Liechenstein, they have something to play for.

    Russ1an fan, I don’t think you should rule Finland out of contention. Finland are capable of snatching points from both Russia and Germany, and pretty much everyone expected Finland to stand a chance of getting a draw and even scoring in Moscow. Finland scored three goals against Germany and showed that they are up for surprises in the group. I don’t think Hodgson’s team would have conceded three goals though.

    The qualifiers are nowhere near ending, so it’s very early to say that Germany and Russia are such clear favourites. They are favourites, but Wales and Finland are both dangerous enough to cause some trouble.

  7. I think Janne’s getting a bit carried away with that description. Serbia at home last year was much more deflating, at home, and against weaker opponents. All the more so as the match was effectively killed after 3 minutes.

  8. Egan, you’re correct, but only thanks to a slight error on my part. It was my intention to indicate that this was the worst road performance against a big country in the last 10 years, since it’ll be hard to ever erase the images of “Finland 0 Norway 4” and “Finland 0 Holland 4” from the Olympic Stadium. And of course the aforementioned Serbia match.

    But in general Finland has had a tendency of getting its best results and overall performances on the road (even during the woeful Muurinen era) when playing big countries. The Euro2008 qualifiers serve as a good (but not solitary) example.

    This match on the other hand was an unmitigated disaster. I acceot and applaud the premise of starting the game with a “nil-nil” approach similar to the Hodgson era, but the execution and passion on the pitch were woeful. As was Baxter’s inability to react at half time when things were clearly spiraling out of control (the game was constantly going more into Russian hands after a decent start by Finland).

    The reason this performance was by far the worst I’ve seen on the road by Finland and certainly approaching an all-time worst (post-1996) was the fact that there was nothing going on offensively or defensively. Usually at least one end of the pitch has been handled, now neither was in any acceptable shape.

    Hopefully, like the Serbia match, this one will serve as a wake up call for the entire team.

  9. Juha Salminen…May be may be… Of course you can fight and even catch some points at home but win against Russia or Germany is too hard for your abilities… specially defend abilities. I haven’t ever see 2 autogoals in one match. It was really funny. After second goal full stadium was laughing and dancing about our victory…
    Huss Hiddink made new Russian team. Nowadays we can rock everybody England, Niderland, Sweden…
    Today people can be proud of there team. Russia is a greatest country in the world and it must have great football team!

  10. Croatia aren’t in this group to save your arses again, so don’t get too carried away just yet. Germany just beat you, they couldn’t beat Finland, and you need to beat Germany at home now. The match next June is pretty massive now, and Finland won’t gift you the win so easily next time, I’m sure.

  11. here we go again :/

  12. Orgullo bético, eres español???

    Finland is yet alive, because winning home match against Russia Hill put above them…

  13. Egan)))))))))))
    It’s really funny) We “killed” Holland, Sweden, Greece on Euro. Nowadays we show most beautiful and agressive play in Europe after Spain.
    Croatia))))) they just help us))) and you must remember that we win England at home! and after that win bronze medals on Euro)
    Of course at home we must win Germany and we will do it like in 1945)))
    at that group everything is known.
    Russia will fight with Germany for 1st line. Wales and Finland for 3rd. Azerbaijan and this small country with hard name will fight for 5th)))
    I’m sure in that final and I think you understand that Finland cannot obstacle us.

  14. Like 1945?

    Re-forming the Soviet Union?

    Calling up other nationalities to help out?

  15. soi sueco pero bueno he vivido ahí.. tuu?

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