Russia World Cup profile
FootyOn’s Russia World Cup profile looks at the 2018 World Cup hosts in detail ahead of the tournament.
Russia open the World Cup finals with the first group stage game on Thursday, June 14.
The last three World Cup hosts have followed a pattern of either reaching the semi-finals (Germany and Brazil) or bowing out of the tournament before the knockout phase (South Africa).
How will the home team at this edition fare? Our Russia World Cup profile assesses their hopes.
How did they qualify?
As World Cup hosts, Russia automatically qualified for the 2018 finals and were placed in Group A.
Previous World Cup record
Since the breakup of the USSR, Russia have made it to three World Cup tournament finals (1994, 2002 and 2014) but never gone beyond the group stage.
Will it be fourth time lucky for the World Cup hosts this coming summer?
When competing as the Soviet Union, they finished fourth in 1966 with the great Lev Yashin in net.
The USSR reached six other World Cup tournament finals (1958, 1962, 1970, 1982, 1986 and 1990), advancing beyond the initial group stage on all but the latter occasion.
FIFA World Ranking: 65
It’s bizarre, but the World Cup hosts are the lowest ranked side in this edition finals draw.
As the tournament is held in Russia, they qualify automatically and so haven’t had to play competitive football since Euro 2016.
The Russians are one of three competing nations ranked outside the top 50 with Saudia Arabia (63) and South Korea (62).
Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov
The World Cup hosts head coach Stanislav Cherchesov is a former goalkeeper who played for two of Moscow’s biggest clubs – Spartak and Lokomotiv – and international football for the USSR, CIS and the Russian Federation.
Since hanging up his gloves in 2002, Cherchesov has coached eight clubs – including Spartak, Terek Grozny, Amkar Perm, and Dynamo Moscow – and succeeded Leonid Slutsky as national boss in August 2016.
He has only won five of his 16 games in charge of Russia before the World Cup draw, but is well-regarded after steering Polish club Legia Warsaw to a league and cup double in 2015/16.
Key player: Igor Akinfeev
Long-serving goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has well over 100 caps and is set to appear at a sixth major tournament with Russia.
Establishing himself as number one in 2005 after a watching brief at Euro 2004, the CSKA Moscow clubman never looked back.
Akinfeev is essential for the World Cup hosts as the defence in front of him is nothing like as experienced as it used to be.
Old guard stalwarts like Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Ignashevich and the Berezutski brothers from that Euro 2008 semi-final vintage are gone.
Although Akinfeev works with a settled selection of Fyodor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak) and Viktor Vasin (CSKA), they have less than 40 caps between them.
His leadership is thus vital if Russia are to improve on just two clean sheets in 11 internationals in 2017.
Rising star: Aleksei Miranchuk
Left-footed Lokomotiv attacker Aleksei Miranchuk scored on his international debut under Fabio Capello aged 19 as a substitute in June 2015.
Successor Slutsky was content to let his development continue with the Under-21s and never once picked him for the World Cup hosts.
Cherchesov, however, has often given Miranchuk minutes often off the bench and he’s made an impact, netting within two minutes of coming against Belgium and inside 10 against South Korea.
Given more than a cameo against 2010 World Cup champions Spain by playing three-quarters of the match, he rewarded such faith with a goal and an assist.
A supporting role to main striker Fyodor Smolov (5/1 with BetVictor to be Russia’s top goalscorer at the World Cup finals), either from the left flank or in-behind looks in Miranchuk’s future.
Most of Cherchesov’s line-ups have involved three centre halves and wing backs.
The World Cup hosts played a 3-4-2-1 system when earning a hugely creditable 3-3 draw with former winners Spain from 2-0 down.
Such tactics afford attacking midfielders like Alan Dzagoev and Miranchuk freedom, while Denis Glushakov sits and it also gets the best out of veteran ex-Chelsea left-sided player Yuri Zhirkov.
Group and betting
Russia are in Group A at the finals.
They face Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay in this pool and, on paper at least, that looks like favourable opposition.
Following the draw, outright win odds for Russia were cut by Paddy Power to 40/1 (from 50/1).
Getting out of this group, meanwhile, looks likely with BetVictor going 6/4 they top the pool.
That bookmaker also has a market on their stage of elimination.
Russia are also 6/4 for a last 16 World Cup exit, 11/4 to lose in the quarter-finals and 5/2 to flop in the group stage.
More from FootyOn
There are World Cup team profiles throughout the build-up to the tournament on our features page.
Further details of our betting partners are in the free bets section.