KALININGRAD, October 12. /TASS/. Russia’s national football team retained the top spot in its group of the UEFA Nations League after a goalless draw with the Swedish squad in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Thursday night.
"It was a wonderful game, with many chances [to score], but the final result is regrettably 0:0," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said. "At the same time, the team has demonstrated good performance… with high speeds and an interesting, spectacular play."
Based on the results of the game, the Russian team’s goalkeeper, 32-year-old Marinato Guilherme, joined the unofficial Lev Yashin Club, a list of Soviet and Russian football goalkeepers who have achieved 100 or more clean sheets during their professional career.
The game at the Kaliningrad Stadium, built for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, was attended by 31,698 spectators.
"This is incredible, we did not expect such a result," the Russian deputy prime minister said. "When we were preparing the program, we expected the attendance to be at below 15,000."
With four points, Russia currently leads the tournament’s Group 2 of League B, followed by Turkey (3 points). Sweden holds the third place with one point.
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). The tournament is aimed at replacing international friendly football fixtures, which sports experts often deemed to be useless.
Its format was adopted at the UEFA Congress in Astana on March 27, 2014. 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. 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 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.
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.