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World Cup Team-by-Team Guide: Russia may surprise a few

| 10.06.2014

Past Tournaments: (As Soviet Union) 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990 (As Russia) 1994, 2002

Previous best: Quarter finals (As Soviet Union) 1958, 1962, 1970, (As Russia) Group Stage 2002

How they got here:

After an ignominious group-stage exit at Euro 2012, the Russian Federation turned to former England manager Fabio Capello to guide them through qualification for Brazil 2014.

The Italian task-master didn’t disappoint either. The Russians ended up topping a group containing Portugal and Israel, whilst only conceding five times.

Star man: Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow)

Dzagoev opens the scoring V Czech republic during Euro 2012

Dzagoev proved a revelation at Euro 2012, bagging himself three goals in the group stages to finish as the joint-top scorer of the tournament.

Russia’s number 10 is the creative spark in a Russian side which is often functional rather than flamboyant under Capello’s stewardship.

Dzagoev is still only 23, but has notched eight goals in 38 appearances for his country and arrives in Brazil fresh from winning consecutive Russian titles with CSKA.

Under the radar: Aleksandr Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)


Sold back to Dynamo Moscow after the Anzhi fire sale last summer, 23-year-old Kokorin has excelled in the Russian capital, notching 10 top-flight goals in just 22 appearances ahead of the World Cup.

Since establishing himself as a regular leader of the Russian line under Capello, the Dynamo man has chipped in with four qualifying goals and another in a friendly back in March.

Team nutcase: Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow)


Russia’s captain comes with a reputation as a hard man on the pitch and a pretty spiky figure off it.

He’s been involved in many controversies during his career, not least falling out with previous Russia coach Guus Hiddink and refusing to play any games of Euro 2008.

Denisov also made the headlines two years ago when delivering an ultimatum over wages to former club Zenit St Petersburg, which saw him relegated to the youth team.

How far can they go?

Having been placed in an intriguing-looking group alongside Belgium, Algeria and South Korea, the Russians will have high hopes of progressing to the knock-out stages at least.

A friendly win over Korea back in November was promising as was the fact they only shipped five goals in 12 qualifying matches to reach Brazil.

However, the likelihood they will face Germany or potentially Portugal in the round-of-16 could well be their undoing.

To win the World Cup: 100/1

Best bet: Second-round exit @ 6/5



Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.