World Cup 2018 Russia team profile: How they qualified, star man, World Cup record, fixtures
Russia qualified for the World Cup as hosts, but how will a squad low on genuine quality fare?
- Honours: N/A
- FIFA Ranking: 66
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Russia qualified as hosts, which, considering their travails on the pitch was probably the only they were making this edition of the tournament. Team Russia were pretty abject at the 2014 tournament, losing one and drawing two after qualifying impressively enough. They have trended downwards since.
STAR MAN - Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar)
The 28-year-old, who briefly turned out for Feyenoord in 2011, has been prolific since moving to the Krasnodar Stadium in 2015, where he has hit 52 goals in 73 league games.
He has amassed 12 goals in 31 appearances for the national team, and the former Dynamo Moscow forward is expected to make a big-money European move post tournament.
Russia's Aleksey Miranchuk (15) celebrates with Fedor Smolov after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on November 14, 2017Getty Images
NEXT BIG THING - Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow)
He has been on the radar of a host of European powers since he won the European U-17 Championship in 2013, with Manchester United the latest side to show an interest in the attacking midfielder, who combines a keen eye for a pass with an ability to carry the ball at pace.
THE COACH - Stanislav Cherchesov
Stanislav Cherchesov was named Russia coach in 2016, and has a pretty shoddy win percentage of 26.32 coming into the tournament. A long-standing dispute with Igor Denisov has seen the holding midfielder, who captained Lokomotiv Moscow to the Russian Premier League, jettisoned from the squad.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
Their best performance, when they played as the USSR, came at the 1966 World Cup where they finished fourth, with the legendary Lev Yashin in goal. However, as the Russian Federation, they have not fared as well, qualifying for the World Cup three times since 1994 but never progressing beyond the Group Stage.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
This is a Russian side in transition. Truth be told, to get out of the group would be an achievement for a group of players shy on quality.
- June 14th: Saudi Arabia
- June 19th: Egypt
- June 25th: Uruguay