Latvian National Football Team Shows Promise Under New Head Coach Paola Nicolato: Analysis from “Riga FC” Coach Kristaps Blanka

The Latvian national football team played two test matches under the leadership of the new head coach Italian specialist Paolo Nicolato, drawing 1:1 against Cyprus and Liechtenstein. TVNET contacted “Riga FC” coach Kristaps Blanka, who shared his observations. It is too early to draw big conclusions, but some changes are visible. One thing is clear – the coach and players still need time to develop a mutual understanding.

In the first game, in the 34th minute, Cyprus took the lead when the central defender of the Latvian national team, Daniels Balodis, did not cover the opponent, who received a pass at the goalpost and sent the ball into the goal. At the end of the first half, Andrejs Cigaņiks earned the right to execute a penalty kick for the Latvian national team, but Vladislavs Gutkovskis did not realize it. A draw was achieved at the end of the game, when Ciganiks scored in the 85th minute. In this match, the Latvian national team had several opportunities to score goals, which were not used. Statistics show that the Latvian national team had a slight advantage – ball control 52% against 48%, shots on goal, shots on goal 4:2.

In the second game, in the first seconds, the Latvian national team got behind, as defender Mārcis Ošs made an inaccurate pass to goalkeeper Pavel Šteinbor, sending the ball into his team’s goal. The Latvian national team quickly retaliated when, in the 11th minute, striker Raimonds Krollis, who had not scored a goal in more than a year, scored an accurate shot. However, the players of Latvia did not manage to win, thus one of the weakest football nations ended the streak of 24 losses. In this match, the Latvian national team had an even greater advantage in statistical indicators than in the first game – ball control 66% against 34%, shots on goal 17:3, shots on goal 2:0 – but the result on the scoreboard at the end was the same as against Cyprus.


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