There are about eight minutes left in the Spain-Russia, Group D encounter. The Russians are three goals down, when they suddenly snatch a goal back from a corner. Yet, even though there is a chance they can still save the game, they show little or no urgency in hurrying back for the restart.
For this is a Russian side, who appeared to have accepted their fate, long before the final whistle. In fact, around the time Spain scored their second goal. It was as if the Russians, simply believed, that they had come up against a superior team, and would not be able to find a way to win.
It’s an attitude that has crept into the mindset of the Russian national team before, in major football tournaments. Talented players, unable to deliver on the big stage.
As if they are mirroring some critical elements, of the national psyche. In the way that the Germans, always seem to portray a superiority complex. Then the Russians show a sense of inferiority, to the rest of the Europe and the world.
As if they will always have to experience struggle and hardship. That success and happiness can never be rightfully theirs. And if they ever experienced these emotional breakthroughs, then something would happen, surely, to negate that sense of satisfaction.
There is a sense of resignation that fate will be as it is. That they do not have the power to reverse this situation. It is written to be this way.
It would take an enormous emotional and psychological shift, to liberate the Russians from the confines of self-doubt. It seems to be a permanent state, that they accept as the norm.
This Russian team needs leaders and fighters, who simply will not acquiesce to this status quo. Men who believe that change, can and will occur. And will do everything in their power to make it so. If they were to breakthrough and become champions of Europe, then it would be a huge event in the history of Russia. The nation could start to see itself in a different light.
But, on the evidence of last night’s capitulation to Spain, that day is still a long way off.
Note – Russia’s subsequent, exhilarating victory over Sweden, is testimony to Guus Hiddink’s ability, to forge some of the ‘right-stuff’ into this Russian team. However, we won’t know how deep their resolve is, until they face sterner tests.