World Cup Profiles – Group H: Russia

13 Jun

russiaRussia beat Portugal to the top spot during qualifying. So how far can they go?

Let’s start with how dumb I feel right now. I had no idea that Russia’s head coach was Fabio Capello! The things you learn when you do research, weird. I’m not known to be Capello’s biggest fan, as I feel that football by Capello is a bit boring at times. However, he’s an incredibly well-respected manager; tactically aware and very organized. He gave structure to Russia that’s made them look better than they may have otherwise.

Russia qualified for their 10th World Cup by drawing against Azerbaijan. They competed as the Soviet Union starting with their first World Cup qualification in 1958 until 1990. They competed as Russia for the first time in 1994. It’s been 12 years since Russia qualified for the World Cup and they’ll be looking to beat their 2002 results where they didn’t make it out of the group stage. Their best finish was in 1966 when they reached the semi-finals and came in 4th.

Russia’s strength? You guess it! Defense! This is owed in part to Capello’s style and organization and in part to excellent qualifying performances by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and defender Sergey Ignashevich. They conceded only five goals in qualifying. The offense can take confidence in that strength at the back. When you don’t concede, you know that any goal wins the game.

Their weakness comes in their lack of star power. No big names, largely inexperienced, and generally not a lot of quality. They can make it to the knockout stages, but if they come in second they’ll likely face Germany and lack the talent to get out of that match.

Watch for: Alexander Kokorin. He’s been hailed as the future of Russian football after scoring 13 goals in 25 games for Dynamo Moscow in 2012-2013. He came up with 4 goals in qualifying, and will be heading the Russian counter attack.

Russia squad

Head Coach: Fabio Capello (Italy)

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan)

Defenders: Vasili Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg)

Forwards: Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)

For additional information on Russia, including World Cup 2014 match schedule & history check out these links.

– mygypsyspirit

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