Dinamo Moscow are historically one of the more successful clubs in the Russian Premier League. Dynamo Moscow along with Dynamo Kyiv are the only club to always be in the top tier of the Russian Premier League. Unfortunately, they were relegated in the 2016/17 season which marked a definite low for the club.

They then gained promotion to return to the first division in the 2017/18 season. Their first season returning to the first division has been nothing close to impressive as they finished twelfth. In this tactical analysis, we shall do an analysis of where Dynamo Moscow went wrong in the Russian Premier League 2018/19 in a statistics-driven format.

A low-scoring league

Dynamo Moscow has massively underperformed their xG in the Russian Premier League 2018/19. Before looking at exactly how much and how this happened, we need to take an important factor into consideration; the goal-scoring frequency in the league.

The Russian league is a low-scoring and defensive one. To put things into perspective, the average goals scored per match in the English Premier League, the Bundesliga and the La Liga are 2.82, 3.18 and 2.56 respectively. In the Russian Premier League 2018/19 however, only 0.97 goals were scored per match. This gives us an idea of just how important even one goal is.

The statistics

Dynamo Moscow has statistics which show that their’s is a team that is not at all fulfilling it’s potential. They scored 28 goals in 30 matches and conceded 28 goals, too. They, however, underperformed on their xG by 6.34. They also conceded 2.25  goals more than their xGA.

Now, their xPTS stat shows the biggest difference. Had they performed as their xG and xGA indicate, they would have got a stunning 13 more points. This would place themselves sixth where Arsenal Tula ended. Arsenal Tula, on the other hand, outperformed their xPTS by eight.

In this tactical analysis, we will also take a look at how their xG changed according to their formation, which players were the problem in front of goal and similar factors that affect attacking prowess.

Individual and formation problems

Dynamo Moscow’s star goal-scorer Panchenko, who is an attacking midfielder on-paper, suffered a long term injury which reduced his playing time and also ruined his form. Hence, he only played 1585 minutes throughout the season scoring five goals. This is very less for a star player. In comparison, the starting strikers of FC Krasnodar and CSKA Moscow’s, Claesson and Chalov played 2465 and 2471 minutes respectively.

This meant the attacking responsibilities fell mainly to Joaozinhoc Cardoso and Lutsenko. Joaozinho is very good in terms of supply assisting 8 goals this season which is because he excels at creating opportunities. Hence, Lutsenko and Cardoso had to cover-up for Panchenko.

In terms of xG and G, the problem formations in the Russian League 2018/19 for Dynamo were the 4-3-3 and the 4-1-3-2. Playing in the 4-3-3, they underperformed on their xG by 2.64 and by 2.21 in the 4-1-3-2.

But in the 4-3-3, one of the players would drop down to play almost as an attacking midfielder. Panchecnko, being a striker and attacking midfielder, was well-suited to this. But other players had problems adapting. Here, we have an example of the individual errors caused frequently in this formation.

The Dynamo Moscow player has possession in the final third from where he can try to unlock the defence and play a through ball. But there is no player making a run behind the lines that the player can pass to. This problem originates from the counter-attack. In such a defensive league, all players except the front three are involved in defence. When the counter-attack is on, four players at maximum make runs which are in front of the ball-carrier. The rest of them are not in progressive positions.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
There is no player making a run behind the lines that the Dynamo Moscow player can pass to. This problem originates from the counter-attack.

The opposition team, however, rarely commit as large a number of players to the attack as we see in the top five leagues. This means that the wingers cannot find space behind the defence without being offside. This is the main reason that playing the ball to an offside player has been one of Dynamo Moscow’s major problems along with not finding the killer pass.

Lack of direct play

Most of Dynamo Moscow’s play ends up with the ball being passed to the wings and then crosses being delivered into the box. They average 16.65 crosses per match with only 5.95 being successful. Crosses are always less effective than defence-splitting through balls but a success rate of 36.02% is still very disappointing.

We shall take a look at an example that shows why the Dinamiki fails to make the most of direct attacks through the centre. In this image, we clearly see that Moscow has regained possession in the middle of the field. This allows them to break away on the counter. This is a fairly common scenario in the Russian league considering the defensive emphasis. This fact is important to keep in mind as it tells us that such an opportunity must arise many times.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
Dynamo Moscow regains possession in the middle of the pitch and looks to break on the counter.

The midfielder whom the ball is passed to then drives forward and the other players make runs so they can receive the ball. However, no player makes a run down the middle as the midfielder is expected to do so. This causes two players to be on the near side and one on the far side with no player to receive a ball from between two opposition defenders.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
The ball-carrier drives forward but has no players making runs behind the defence.

The next image shows us that by the time any player has made a run to receive the ball down the middle of the field, the opposition has had plenty of time to get their players back. This problem is causes as the formation they played predominantly in the Russian Premier League 2018/19 has been a 4-4-2 that often transitions into a 4-4-1-1. In neither of those formations do they have a creative attacking midfielder or players to make the killer pass.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
By the time any player has made a run to receive the ball down the middle of the field, the opposition has had plenty of time to get their players back.

The player Dynamo Moscow depend on for the creativity and assists is Joaozinho who plays on the left-wing. The players who would ideally play the final passes, Yusupov and Sow have both been sub-par with 26.6 and 19.2 passes in the opposition half on average with both of them having a 78% accuracy.

This problem of lack of direct play limits the shooting distance of the players. If they are unable to unlock the defence, Moscow tends to take a lot of shots. They average 14.9 shots per game. Out of these, 43% are from outside the box.

Inefficient utilisation of space

When playing a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, the two wide midfielders of Dynamo Moscow will try and find space near the opposition’s line of defence. The problem with that is that it is often near the opposition’s defence rather than between the midfield and defensive lines. The problem this causes is that the central defenders have to pass through the entire opposition midfield to reach their teammates.

Here, we can see an example of just that. The central midfielder of Moscow has the ball and the only passing options for him are the four players near the opposition defence. The other passing options would just push the attack out wide and with nobody to combine with through the middle, which is not an option. Passing to the defence and the defenders then playing long balls is an option which is executed often but the chances of retaining possession are not a guarantee in that case.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
The central midfielder of Moscow has the ball and the only passing options for him are the four players near the opposition defence. The other passing options would just push the attack out wide.

Hence, what ends up happening is the ball is passed to the wings but the opposition’s midfield players look to impose numerical superiority onto the Dynamo players which will lead to them being dispossessed.

Russian Premier League 2018/19: Dynamo Moscow tactical analysis statistics
The opposition’s midfield players look to impose numerical superiority onto the Dynamo players on the wings.

When looking to shut down the Dynamo Moscow attack, the opposition often looks to crowd the midfield. When this is done, the players are unable to find passes between the lines and the ball is more likely to be lost to the opposition.

Conclusion

Dynamo Moscow has been an average team in the Russian Premier League 2018/19. But as we found out in our tactical analysis, the problems are definitely solvable. The team has also had a lot of problems off the pitch with the rift between manager Dmitri Khokhlov and the sporting director Roman Shirokov, financial and relegation problems.

But if they are to reach their full potential, then they need to make improvements as we saw in the tactical analysis. By no means are they just a sub-par team and the 2019/20 season will be very important to them to firmly establish themselves as one of the best Russian teams and that is definitely possible.


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Anurag Agate

Tactical analyst, Culé, tiki taka ftw
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