COACH – Fabio Capello
BEST SHOWING – Semi-finals 1966 (as Soviet Union), group stages 1994, 2002
QUALIFICATION – Winner of UEFA Qualifying Group F
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 125/1 (BetVictor)
June 17th – South Korea (2300 BST, Cuiaba, BBC)
June 22nd – Belgium (1700 BST, Rio de Janeiro, BBC)
June 26th – Algeria (2100 BST, Curitiba, ITV)


Button Belgium Button South Korea Button Algeria


Since the break up of the Soviet Union, the Russians haven’t set the world alight on the footballing stage bar an appearance in the last four of Euro 2008. At Euro 2012 the Russians looked a threat when they destroyed the Czech Republic but ended up eliminated at the group stage after a loss to Greece.

Change came at the top with Fabio Capello taking on the coaching reins. Since then the Russians have lost just twice, both 1-0 reversals to Portugal and amazingly Northern Ireland topping a group that Portugal were widely expected to win.

Capello’s made his Russians a tough unit and they conceded just five goals in qualifying. Disappointingly for them, 60% of them came late on – a lack of focus in Brazil will be far more fatal to Russian hopes.

Russia’s strength comes from a solid spine and every single one of Capello’s squad plies their trade in Russia.

Igor Akinfeev will don the goalkeeping gloves with Capello employing a 4-3-3 in front of him, the strategy being to get the ball wide to the wingers. A fair chunk of their goals come from accurate crossing and the intelligent movement of the forwards.

The veteran duo of Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski will pair up at centre back, Alexei Kozlov and Andrey Yeschenko will compete for the right back slot whilst Dmitri Kombarov is the likely left back although Yuri Zhirkov is also an option.

Igor Denisov should sit in a deep lying midfield role while Roman Shirokov and Viktor Fayzulin will try to impose a high pressing, high tempo style on the opposition.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov should lead the line but he’s not the most prolific. He should be supported by the exciting Alan Dzagoev.


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09 WORLD CUP DZAGOEVDzagoev started out at Akademiya Tolyatti before signing for CSKA Moscow in 2008 and has been a regular in the Russian lineup since debuting as an 18 year old in 2010.

Despite Russia’s early exit in Euro 2012, Dzagoev impressed, netting three goals, enough to make him one of the tournament’s joint highest scorers.

Dzagoev is an able foil to Kerzhakov but scoring isn’t his only strength. Like every good attacking midfielder, he can make mincemeat out of defences with his passing, dribbling and crossing.

He’s also a foul magnet and can indirectly play a part in Russian set pieces by giving them strong positions.



Russia come into the World Cup with a poor record at major tournaments. Since the Soviet Union broke up, the Russians have bowed out at the group stages every time they’ve qualified.

This time it could be different. Capello’s made them a less fragile unit than they were in Euro 2012 and he’s created a degree of harmony in the Russian players. They play for each other, they’re familiar with each other and they believe they can make a convincing tilt at World Cup glory.

In what is seen as a relatively soft group, Russia should fancy themselves to qualify. What they can’t afford to do is lose that focus in the later minutes of games or have a barnstorming first game and attempt to coast through a la Euro 2012.

It’ll be tight between the Russians and South Korea for that second place and even then a likely tie against Germany awaits. But of course, if the unlikely happens, a politically tense clash against the USA could also take place.


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It’s between them and South Korea for the runner-up spot behind Belgium. Any further than the last 16 would be a surprise.


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Dandrei Kanchelskis (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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