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Russia: Being Hosts, Stanislav Cherchesov's Men Must Make Their Presence Felt At The 2018 FIFA World Cup

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Being the host nation, Russia automatically qualified for the FIFA World Cup this year. But, the Russians have a lot to prove at the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet. Playing the inaugural World Cup match against Saudi Arabia on 14th June, the hosts should be able to overcome their opponents in the opening tie. But, with teams like Uruguay and Egypt in their group, the Russian side must play out of the skin of their teeth to go past the group stage.

History

Russia: Cherchesov's Men Eager To Make Their Presence Felt© Reuters

Russia won the first edition of the UEFA European Championships in 1960 as USSR. With some runner-up performances in Euros, Russia is yet to emulate their glory from the past. Russia has quite a history in the FIFA World Cup as it has appeared 10 times in the quadrennial event. The Russian football team has played 40 World Cup matches out of which it has won 17 and lost 15.  With a home advantage bolstering their campaign, the Russian team will surely be eager to make it to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Current Form

Russia: Cherchesov's Men Eager To Make Their Presence Felt© Reuters

Placed in Group A along with Egypt, Uruguay, and Saudi Arabia, Russia has a real chance to be in the round of 16. Ranked 66th in FIFA standings, the Russian football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup on the virtue of being the hosts. Russia is one of the least ranked teams in the group of 32 and lacks experienced and recognized players on their roster. 

But being the hosts, the crowd backing the team and with their technically accomplished midfielders, this will be Russia's golden chance to assert their presence in the tournament. That being said, there's no denying that the Russian squad lacks depth and world-class talent. Cherchesov's options have been further limited by the absence of Viktor Vasin, Georgi Dzhikiya and Aleksandr Kokorin due to injuries.

However, Russia did manage a 3-3 draw against Spain and suffered a difficult 1-0 loss against Argentina in previous friendlies. If they find some form now, they can surely pull off some unexpected results.

Expectations At The World Cup

Russia: Cherchesov's Men Eager To Make Their Presence Felt© Reuters

As such, we can safely assume that a remarkable run is pretty unlikely given their poor international form but their familiarity with the home conditions and massive backing from the crowd might just propel them into the Round of 16.

Stanislav Cherchesov is the man charged with picking up a fragile side. He used to play in goal for Russia and made strengthening the team's defence his no. 1 priority in a bid to avoid another disappointing Russian performance at a major tournament. He plays four at the back instead of Slutsky's three and has brought in some uncapped players, including Fedor Kudryashov and Ilya Kutepov, to replace the squad's ageing defence.

While Uruguay is expected to be the team reaching the knockout phase from Group A, Russia, with their keen motivation, can also give a healthy competition to Oscar Tabarez's side in the final group matches. On more realistic grounds, going past the group stage will be the initial goal for Cherchesov and his men.

Squad

Russia confirmed their 23-man squad on 4th of May. Six players faced the cut from Coach Stanislav Cherchesov's provisional list.

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Brugge), Andrei Lunyov (Zenit St Petersburg)

Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Fyodor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semyonov (Akhmat Grozny), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg), Mario Fernandes, Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Yury Gazinsky (Krasnodar), Alan Dzagoev, Alexander Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Alexander Erokhin, Yury Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin, Alexander Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal)

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (Krasnodar).

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