One to Watch – Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

Overview of Player

Aleksandr Golovin, the homegrown nation’s one to watch. Aleksandr is a 22 year old midfielder who currently plays in his home land at CSKA Moscow. Golovin has played 43 games in the 2017/18 campaign, featuring in both the Champions League and Europa League.

Aleksandr has won the Under 17 European Championship back in 2013 with Russia and has also represented Russia all the way through to the first team where he has a total of 19 appearances.

Golovin is often rotated in central midfield and central attacking midfield within CSKA Moscow, however, whilst playing for the national team he has played in several roles such as defensive midfield, left midfield, centre midfield and attacking midfield.

 Overview on Nation

There are a lot of expectations and pressure off the field for the host nation, but lets focus on their football chances. 21 of the 23 players are based in Russia with only Denis Cheryshev and Vladimir Gabulov playing their club football in different countries.

Russia have never won any major trophy, but were in the semi-finals of the 2008 European Championship where they lost to eventual winners Spain. Sergei Ignashevich will be one of the oldest players at the World Cup if he plays. Russia have the sixth oldest squad heading to the World Cup, at an age of 28.8 – will the experience be fundamental in Russia’s chances or will the lack of exciting young talent prevent Russia from progressing?

There are plenty of positives for the hosts, they have host advantage? Wait, is that an actual thing? Probably not. Russia have experimented with two formations in recent games, one being a 3-5-2 and a 4-2-3-1, both have their highlights but it looks as if Russia will play with the latter formation.

Performance of player in qualification

Due to Russia automatically qualifying for the World Cup, I can hardly talk about Aleksandr’s World Cup qualifying campaign, I can only talk about the friendlies he participated in.

In Russia’s most recent game they took on Turkey, where Golovin played on the left side of midfield. Looking further back, he has played in attacking midfield and centre midfield, but looks very content in all of his roles within the Russian system.

Golovin is a very attacking minded midfielder and really loves driving forward with the ball and creating an opportunity in the final third of the pitch, in particular he has fantastic dribbling attributes which effect his game. Sometimes with a midfielder who likes to drive forward, they often lose possession, Golovin is very accomplished at holding onto possession and playing a short, simple passing game. Often dictating the game, see what I did? I’ll shut the door on the way out.

Nobody is perfect, and although Golovin has been played as a winger, his crossing isn’t his strongest attribute, but that might be due to the fact he is a more central midfielder. He is also not the tallest and often loses out on aerial duels, being 5 foot 9, it’s easy to see why he loses out.

In terms of how much he can influence Russia’s chances of the world cup, I would definitely say 7/10 and can easily see him being a star player.

Why he’s one to watch

I think Golovin is by far Russia’s most exciting player in recent years and with rumours of him joining a top European team it’s hard not to see why he will be key to Russia this summer.

He is an exciting player who likes to drive at defenders and beat his man, this is something that I personally think is very important if you want your midfield to be positive in transitional phases. I particularly like his ball retention and ability to play a short simple game, rather than looking for a killer pass or not making the correct decisions.

Being Russia’s youngest player at the competition, it’s fair to say there might be some pressure on him, but I believe he will relish the opportunity and make the stage his own.

Video of player/compilation

A compilation of Aleksandr’s highlights, quite mesmerising.

FM Screenshot

20180613151636_1

The 22 year old has bags of potential on Football Manager and his attributes speak volumes. 15 dribbling and 14 passing at that age is fantastic and will definitely be deciding factors in Russia’s success at the World Cup. His mental attributes are of an experienced professional and that really shows his maturity at such a young age.

It’s not hard to see why so many big European clubs are after the Russian’s signature.


This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018


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