Russia - World Cup 2014 Team Profile
Nick Spiller reports
Road to Brazil
Having not qualified for a World Cup since 2002, and having largely failed at the Euro 2012 competition, Russia has been a re-generated team. In the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, the Russians were able to fend off Portugal and secure the top spot in Group F, earning direct qualification for Brazil.
Russia Kit 1
Russia Kit 2
While recent tournaments have been hard on Russia, they did reach the semifinals of the 2008 Euro tournament, showing the continent that they can compete on the big stage. However, the world is still waiting for Russia's first big mark at a World Cup.
Russia has found themselves in a soft group in Brazil. While Belgium appears to be the frontrunner, their youth and inexperience at major tournaments could see them falter under the pressure. Algeria was present at the 2010 World Cup, but they didn't score a single goal and are hardly a threat to progress to the knockout stages. Meanwhile, South Korea has a pretty talented team that matches up quite evenly with the Russians.
Therefore, Russia could find success and may even top this group at the World Cup. They have a well balanced side featuring two top strikers on the opposite ends of successful careers. Aleksandr Kokorin represents the future hope of Russian soccer while Aleksandr Kerzhakov has enjoyed a splendid career with Zenit St. Petersburg and has 25 national team goals to his credit. In the midfield, solid players Alan Dzagoev and Yuri Zhirkov will contribute while several mature defenders look to hold down the fort.
Key player: Alan Dzagoev
The lone bright spot on Russia's failed 2012 Euro campaign, Dzagoev netted 3 goals in 3 matches at the even and showcased a potential star of the future from the attacking midfield position. Just 23 years of age, he can become a superstar if he continues his top form at international tournaments. He just needs support from his team.
One to watch: Aleksandr Kokorin
Another youngster with big potential, Kokorin has done quite well with Dynamo Moscow, scoring double digits in the last 2 club seasons. Kokorin has also performed well in the international matches he has appeared in. Russian fans know that this player could be a key figure for the team's future and would love to see him get on the score sheet in Brazil.
Coach: Fabio Capello
The renowned Fabio Capello has led several major clubs throughout his career, including AC Milan and Real Madrid. He was also the England national team coach several years ago. Joining Russia in 2012, Capello has helped the team click very well and top their qualification group.
With a defensive mind-set, Capello usually employs a lone striker and midfielders who are strong on the ball.
As USSR (before and including 1990)
1990 First Round; 1982, 1986 Second Round; 1958, 1962, 1970 Quarterfinals; 1966 Fourth Place
As Russia (since 1990)
1994, 2002 Group Stage
2014 World Cup Squad
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), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Krasnodar)
Strikers: Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)