The stadium of the Russian side FC Rostov has been banned by the UEFA to host any further matches. This comes as a result of multiple complaints by Jose Mourinho.
The English giants travelled to Russia a week back to play their Europa League Round of 16 games. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, which many United fans felt was a satisfactory result. Though, if one looked closely, United could not play their natural game. No, it wasn’t the expertise of the Rostov players which prevented them from doing so. The culprit was the surface of the pitch, which was very hard in nature.
The Rostov story:
FC Rostov, which played in the Champions League this season has formed a fortress of its own at home. They are formidable at home and have even beaten the big teams of Europe. The team last lost to Atletico Madrid at home, which was way back in October. They have also beaten the likes of Bayern at home. They have not yet lost in the Russian League at home.
This proves that no matter what team goes there, it is very unlikely that they will win. The team has been resilient and built a game which suits the pitch. Therefore, it increases their chances at winning.
The dynamics of the pitch:
The pitch of the Rostov home ground is really hard. Before the United match, twitter was filled with memes about the pitch. Many called it fit for playing cricket. The hard surface barely has any grass on it. The biggest problem with such an arrangement is the effect it has on grounded passes. Now, most of the teams rely on grounded passes more than air balls. Rostov, on the other hand, has built a game around long balls. Rostov plays on an average 40% more long balls than any other team in Europe.
This inhibits the visiting teams to play their natural game which they do on grass pitches. Hence, all the skills such as dribbling, defence tearing through balls etc become redundant as they become near to impossible to execute. Another problem with such a pitch is that teams cannot exert too much physically. The risk of an injury increase by leaps and bounds in such a situation.
The same could be seen in the match against Manchester United. The fact that the entire fan community of United applauded a 1-1 result speaks volumes of dangerous the pitch was. Since United were supposed to play Chelsea in another 4 days, coming out without an injury was a boost.
The course of action taken:
“It’s hard for me to believe we are going to play on that field, if you can call it a field.”- Mourinho
After Mourinho’s complaint, the Russian Premier League decided to investigate and take action. They have now banned the Rostov side from hosting any games in their home ground. The Russian side has been given a time period until 24th of March, to make the conditions of the field better.