Spartak has a lot of problems. Maksimenko at the gate is not the last of them.

Of course, the whole Spartak is bad now. The team has long since moved away from the inherent Vitoria principles and style, plays according to a scheme alien to the Portuguese, looks faded in attack, and creates chances with difficulty.

Only the feeling does not leave that the results are still too harsh in relation to “Spartak” – and even with his dullness, he could now be in a better position in the tournament. When there is no obvious dominance over the opponent, as well as there is no overt weakness against his background, you can lose one match, the second, then somewhere luck should smile. “Spartak” lost almost all the games in which it looked no worse than the opponent this season.

For “Spartak” is no longer ashamed. It’s just a pity for him

Let’s list them again: “Ruby” (0: 1, the team created more chances, conceded after a long-range strike and rebound); Nizhny Novgorod (1: 2, two early conceded goals, but then the game went in one direction, there were enough chances at least for a draw); Sochi (1: 2, an equal match, and at 1: 0 the red and white could have scored the second); Legia (0: 1 in the last minutes, earlier Spartak had played at least a goal); CSKA (0: 1 in a boring game where both opponents looked bad and exchanged plus or minus the same chances). Only three games went beyond the script: two matches with Benfica (no chances in both cases) and with Arsenal, where a draw was made, and the Tula team played just as well.

It is quite clear that Spartak needs to improve – then there will be no games from the “thin” category, when the outcome can be determined by one or two random episodes. But even with such a game, if the red and white now were in the best emotional state and would appreciate their chances, they could not flounder at the bottom of the table near the relegation zone, but go somewhere near the top three. Larsson in the current season he has not scored a goal after 25 shots and 1.83 xG, Ponce has three goals after 20 shots and 3.81 xG (that is, also a shortage), Sobolev has the only penalty kick with 16 shots and 3.03 xG, and in general Spartak scored 8 goals in all tournaments after 16.96 xG. Half as much as expected.

This is a very strong shortfall, especially in contrast to friendly games, where every long-range shot from Sobolev or Moses flew in. And here, it seems, a lot is already tied to psychology.

Spartak continues to sink.  Now Vitoria lost and the derby
Spartak continues to sink. Now Vitoria lost and the derby

The quality of defense has improved statistically. The number of goals conceded is the same

There is another problem: Spartak also concedes more than it should. There is no drastic deterioration in defense quality in the xG model compared to last season. At Tedesco the red and white allowed 11.15 hits and 1.24 xGA in 90 minutes, in the new season, even with Benfica – 8.27 hits and 0.90 xGA, that is, the performance is better. Moreover, according to NPxGA (chances allowed without penalty kicks) Spartak is generally the best in the league. At the same time, he concedes almost as much as under Tedesco – 1.18 goals now, 1.24 – last season.

Not the least role in all this disgrace plays Maksimenko… It is probably time for the club to think about the goalkeeper. He began to miss a bit too much, and this continues from the second part of last season.

In the current season, Maksimenko has 13 conceded goals after 28 shots on target (53.57% of those reflected – very sad). In terms of goals prevented, there is a very negative difference (-3.94 at a relatively short distance), concedes more than expected, already three goals from outside the penalty area, optional balls from CSKA, Khimki, Nizhny, Rubin.

And if we take the end of February 2021 as a starting point, that is, significantly lengthen the distance, then everything is also bad. 55.9 percent of reflected shots, radically minus the difference between expected goals (xCG) and real ones, only three zero games – no one else in RPL has such a thing. Even Rebrov did not allow himself this in his later years.

Let me emphasize that the point is by no means just one goal by Zabolotny (there is no need to talk about an obvious mistake, but Maksimenko could have helped). We are currently evaluating the goalkeeper’s level at a distance. For a long time there was a feeling that the goalkeeper of “Spartak” is not dragging. And it is backed up by numbers.

“Poor fellow.” Newcomer of “Spartak” Kofrie again took part in the conceded goal


Please do not take this text as an attempt to find an extreme and to blame him for the club’s failures. I repeat that Spartak has a lot of problems. But they need to be solved step by step, to isolate the most vulnerable spots and try to improve their quality. Somewhere to juggle the squad, start looking at the players with a fresh look, and not remember their old merits (for example, in my opinion, it is impossible to play worse than Larsson is doing now), change non-working blocks.

And by winter, you will probably have to think about transfers to the goalkeeper line. Maksimenko is not the weakest link, but certainly not the strongest. A year ago he was dragging, now he stopped. And now it also contributes to the fact that the team is drowning.