World Cup 2018: Uruguay 3 - 0 Russia - 3 key moments
In my preview of the final set of games in Group A, I had predicted a Russian victory. This prediction was based on the free-flowing football that Russia had played till then, and the holes that were evident in the Uruguayan midfield. However, Oscar Tabarez tweaked the formation for this game and the Russians could find no response as Uruguay coasted to a 3-0 victory. Here are 3 decisive moments that tilted the tie in Uruguay's favor and sealed their place at the top of the group.
1) 0' - Torreiro starts, Golovin doesn't
Both managers were trying to find the fine balance between resting key personnel for the knockouts and maintaining the winning momentum that their sides had developed. Both sides made 3 changes each, and two, in particular, stood out: Torreiro in for Uruguay and Golovin out for Russia.
Russia retained their 4231 formation but rested Aleksandr Golovin, opting to go instead with Aleksei Miranchuk. Golovin's link-up play with Cheryshev, in particular, was sorely missed as Miranchuk was unable to provide the creative spark expected from a number 10. The Russian offensive unit as a whole was a pale shadow of the attacking force that took them to the top of the goalscoring charts after two games.
Uruguay decided to change from a 442 formation to a 41212 formation, bringing Lucas Torreira into the side as a holding midfielder. The extra man in front of the center-backs afforded the full-backs more freedom to charge down the flanks, which eventually led to Russia losing a man later in the first half. In addition, the midfield trio of Torreira, Nandez, and Vecina were able to use their triangle shape to shackle Cheryshev, effectively nullifying the Russian attacking threat.