It is not cold war, not even world war three, not to attend any BRICS Summit Russia is heading to Brazil to fight in the beautiful game__ Joga Bonito. The host of 2018 world cup is a major member of BRICS, a strong economic alliance growing in stature. Two members of BRICS will fight against the rest of the football world in Brazil world cup. They are hosts Brazil and Russia as other three__ India, China and South Africa are not within 32 teams. Brazil is among the top favorites while Russia will play for its pride. It is the host of world cup 2018 and for that it will endeavour to leave some impression of its football prowess in Brazil.
Russia is certainly glad to have ended its 12-year wait to appear in a world cup, but it will not be looking to make up the numbers in Brazil. There is little expectation at home that Russia could go on to win the competition, but there is certainly optimism that it could advance from the group stages for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
It will certainly want to improve on its last showing in the finals in 2002 when, after beating Tunisia, it lost to Japan and Belgium and went out in the group stages. Currently 18th in FIFA ranking Russia has appeared 10 times in the past with a best finish in 1966 when host England won at home. Definitely soccer lovers have sweet memories of all-time great Russian goalkeeper Lev Ivanovich Yashin, nicknamed as "The Black Spider" or "The Black Panther".
Russia is now heading to Brazil with a good mix of youth and experience, with coach Fabio Capello introducing new names to go along with the established internationals. The vast majority of players come from just a handful of clubs, with Zenit St. Petersburg, Dynamo Moscow, CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow set to supply a large percentage of the squad. The spine of the team looks solid. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and the central defensive partnership of Sergey Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutskiy have played together for both club and country for almost a decade. Russia conceded only five goals in qualifying for Brazil and only Belgium, England and Spain conceded fewer en route to the world cup.
Scoring goals could be the biggest concern for Russia and an over-reliance on forward Alexander Kerzhakov, who is the only player likely to be in Russia's squad who has previously appeared at a World Cup. The midfield reflects Russia's strength with the underrated Igor Denisov providing stability, allowing Roman Shirokov and Denis Glushakov to move forward. If recent internationals are anything to go by, it is likely Capello will pick his entire squad from the Russian Premier League. This will give Russia continuity but perhaps also a surprise factor against teams who are not well accustomed to Russia's domestic championship.
The Russian World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergei Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan)
Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Georgy Shchennikov (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Alexei Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Andrei Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrei Semyonov (Terek Grozny)
Midfielders: (Rubin Kazan), Viktor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Gazinsky (FC Krasnodar), Roman Shirokov (FC Krasnodar), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets)
Forwards: Vladimir Bystrov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Artyom Dzyuba (FC Rostov), Alexei Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Maxim Kannunikov (Amkar Perm), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Russia will play in a group which will have Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. Only Belgium could be a difficult side for Russia to deal with. Russia must aim to head the group to avoid meeting Germany in the play off. There is a feeling that this world cup is last opportunity for many of the senior players. Berezutsky, Ignashevich and Shirokov were part of EURO mission in 2008. But they no longer have the fire of youth which makes of pundits of Russian soccer carefully optimistic.
Vladimir Stognienko, lad commentator of Russian state broadcasting company Rossiya told Soccer International World Cup Special,”I am sure we will make to the play off, and if we avoid Germany we have every chance to reach the quarter finals”. He also said that the main strength of the team is the brain of Coach Fabio Capello. He also said,”We have no stars, but there are good skilled, experienced players who demonstrates their maximum possible abilities because of Capello.”
BDST:1100 HRS, MAY 28, 2014