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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Russia, the incredible host team of the Word Cup


Not a few predicted that Russia would be one of the worst host teams in the history of the World Cup. The local team came to the World Cup as the worst classified team in the FIFA ranking, in the 70th place, and for that reason it was the target of cruel jokes by its own and strangers in the previous weeks.

The Russians silenced their detractors in two matches: 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia and 3-1 against Egypt and qualifying to the last 16 with one match to play. "Having two victories is not an accident because we are a solidary group," said coach Stanislav Cherchesov. Russia came to their World Cup after seven friendlies in which they failed to achieve a single victory, the worst streak in their history, for that reason they finished in 70th place on the FIFA table.

The confidence in the team was so low that a sports journalist from said that only "a miracle" could prevent the host from succumbing in the group stage. The misadventures that followed the team were so many that they managed to remove 38-year-old midfielder Sergei Ignashevich from retirement due to a string of injuries of other selected players. However, reality proved different. Russia has led the best start of all hosts of the World Cup in history. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov's team scored the same amount of goals in 180 minutes as Spain did throughout their journey to win the 2010 championship. The eight goals in this World Cup exceed the number of goals scored by the Russian teams in the 2002 World Cups and 2014.

Specialists consider that one should recognize that the Russian group is one of those considered easy. Locals debuted against Saudi Arabia, ranked 67th on the FIFA table, the second worst ranked behind them. Then they faced number 45 in the ranking, Egypt, which has not won a game since October and does not know of victories in the world. Uruguay is the latest team that Russia will face and is ranked 14th on the list of national teams from around the world. Perhaps against them it can be verified if the Russian team really has some level or its first successful steps were due to the weakness of its rivals. Of its eight goals, only two have been scored by players who started in the opening match against Saudi Arabia.

Denis Cheryshev scored twice against the Saudis, but he entered the field after entering as a substitute due to an injury to Alan Dzagoev. Cheryshev is a skilled player of Villarreal, but his good run is a surprise for everyone. He had scored only two goals in the league in the previous two seasons, and had never scored in the national team football in the 11 games he had played. So, is Russia a good team or just a lucky one? It seems that the answer is both.