KALININGRAD, October 10. /TASS/. Brazil-born Marinato Guilherme will be the starting goalkeeper for the Russian national football team during the UEFA Nations League match between Russia and Sweden on Thursday night in Russia’s Kaliningrad, Head Coach Stanislav Cherchesov said on Wednesday.
The match between the national squads of Russia and Sweden is scheduled to be played on October 11 at the over 35,000-seat capacity stadium in Russia’s westernmost city of Kaliningrad, which hosted games of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, starting at 9:45 p.m. local time (19:45 GMT).
"Guilherme will be the starting goalkeeper of the Russian national team in the match against the Swedish national squad," Cherchesov told journalists.
Russian national team’s famous goalkeeper Igor Akenfeev, who is also a goalkeeper for CSKA Moscow FC, announced on October 1 his decision to retire playing for the national squad. Cherchesov said on Monday that the Russian team still had a strong line-up of goalkeepers despite Akenfeev’s retirement from the squad.
Akenfeev began playing for the national team on April 28, 2004, in a friendly match against Norway, becoming the youngest player to debut on the national team at the age of 18 years and 20 days. He was nicknamed ‘the almighty leg’ after a brilliant block of his net during a penalty shootout with the Spanish national squad during the 2018 FIFA World Cup’s match of Round 16 against Spain in July, when hosts Russia progressed to the quarterfinals stage.
The Russian Football Union (RFU) Commercial Director Vladimir Karpovich told TASS earlier on Wednesday that all tickets had been sold out for the match on Thursday night.
The Nations League is a new biennial football tournament for men’s national teams of all the 55-member states of the European governing football body, UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations).
Also this week, on October 14, Russia is scheduled to play the UEFA Nations League second-leg match against Turkey at the over 44,200-seat capacity Fisht Stadium in Russia’s southern city of Sochi. Some 26.000 tickets have been already sold for the match in Sochi, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. local time on Sunday (16:00 GMT).
Last month, the Russia defeated Turkey 2-1 in the first-leg match of the UEFA Nations League. The match was played in Turkey’s Trabzon at the over 43,000-seat capacity Senol Gunes Stadium.
The tournament’s participants have been divided into four divisions or Leagues, namely from League A, which enlists the strongest teams, to League D. Each League has been divided into groups and the Russian national team was placed into Group 2 of the League B.
The Russian team shares its group with the national squads of Turkey and Sweden. All teams in the group will have to play two matches against each other (away and at home) and the best team in the group will be eventually promoted to League A, while the 3rd place team will be demoted to League C.
The Nations League format was adopted at the UEFA Congress in Astana on March 27, 2014, and the tournament was aimed at replacing international friendly football fixtures, which sports experts often deemed to be useless.
There are currently 12 teams in League A, 12 teams in League B, 15 teams in League C, and 16 teams in League D. Four nations, finishing in the top of each League, will also qualify for the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup.
The inaugural UEFA Nations League tournament kicked off in early September. The teams finishing in the top of their Leagues will be promoted to League A, which will have the national squads competing next June in the Nations League Finals.
Next summer’s tournament will include two semifinals and one final to decide which team becomes the UEFA Nations League champion. The winner of the new tournament will be awarded with a sterling-silver trophy representing all 55-member nations of the UEFA.