Kokorin and Lunev’s clubs can win European Cups. Will our players receive medals for the trophy?
Anatoly Romanov May 18, 2023, 2:00 PM Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Fiorentina and Bayer Leverkusen continue the battle for victory in the Conference League and the Europa League, respectively.
Eurocopa week will continue with the return of the semifinals of the Europa League and the Conference League. In the first of these tournaments, Bayer will play Roma and Sevilla will play Juventus. In the second, “Basel” with “Fiorentina” and “AZ Alkmaar” with “West Ham”. Eight teams from six countries compete for two trophies.
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What unites the Italian “Fiorentina” with the German “Bayer”? At least one fact that interests us is that both clubs have Russian footballers. The violets have contracted until the summer of 2024 striker Alexander Kokorin, who currently plays on loan at the Cypriot Aris. The “pharmacists” include goalkeeper Andrei Lunev, whose contract with Leverkusen is valid until the summer of 2023. Russian fans may therefore wonder: will our legionnaires receive medals if Fiorentina and Bayer win European Cups?
In general, it must be admitted that the chances of Fiorentina and Bayer to win in international tournaments decreased after the first semifinals. The Italians unexpectedly lost at home to Basel with a score of 1:2, although they scored first and led until the 70th minute. By the way, Kokorin’s competitor, striker Artur Cabral, was the author of his goal. A year and a half ago, Zenit took an interest in this Brazilian, who was playing for Basel at the time, but Cabral ultimately, unlike Kokorin and Lunev, did not make it to Saint Petersburg. Fiorentina now need to win at least one goal in Switzerland to hope to win on penalties later.
Bayer lost to Roma in Rome – 0:1. “Old fox” José Mourinho outmaneuvered one of Europe’s most promising young managers, Xabi Alonso, to win by his favorite score. In Leverkusen, the “pharmacists” also need to score at least one more goal than the opponent in 90 minutes.
However, even if Fiorentina and Bayer succeed, Kokorin and Lunev should not expect medals. The fact is that Russian legionnaires have never been included in the candidacy of their teams for the matches of these tournaments. The striker left Florence on August 31. At that time, the Violets had not even started in the group stage of the LC, but only played in qualifying against Twente. But Alexander was not included in the request for meetings with the Dutch. It was clear to everyone at Fiorentina that Kokorin was an extra figure for coach Vincenzo Italiano.
Photo: Image Alliance/TASS
Lunev has a different story. In the first part of the season, Bayer played in the group stage of the Champions League, and the Russian goalkeeper took part in the tournament. He missed the first two rounds due to injury, but after recovering he was included in the match request four times, however, he remained on the bench. However, in January 2023, Andrei received a new injury, from which he is still recovering. For this reason, Bayer excluded him from the candidacy for the European competition. In the winter transfer window, the German club signed a new goalkeeper, Austrian Patrick Pentz from Reims, who took Lunev’s place. True, recently Penz was also injured, so the Austrian also misses the semifinals with Roma.
Lunev’s representative, agent Anton Smirnov, commenting on Penz’s move to Leverkusen in January, admitted: “Bayer’s acquisition of a new goalkeeper changed the situation 180 degrees.” The Russian goalkeeper was ready to change clubs in the winter window if he was healthy. The injury delayed the signing of Lunev until the summer of 2023.
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Lunev can count on a beautiful line in his profile at most – the winner of the Europa League. But another former RPL player will definitely get a medal should Bayer win the European Cup. This is Serdar Azmun. The former Rubin, Rostov and Zenit striker could also leave Leverkusen in the winter. The Iranian failed to transfer to Marseille, plus it was rumored that he had offers from Zenit and a couple of other Russian clubs. But Azmoun stayed at Bayer Leverkusen and improved training with Xabi Alonso. He scored four goals in the Bundesliga: Freiburg, Hertha, Schalke and Eintracht. He provided assists in matches for Mainz and the Belgian Union in the Europa League playoffs. However, Serdar continues to come on more times as a substitute than at the base: in the first semifinal with Roma he spent 20 minutes on the field.
And Lunev and Kokorin will watch club matches today, which still belong to them as ordinary fans.