As Russia are hosting the 2018 World Cup, they haven’t had to endure the qualifying stages of the competition. This means that they are something of an unknown quantity, but it also means that they are lacking the top-level experience enjoyed by their rivals in Group A.
Russia suffered dismal form on the pitch in Euro 16, as well as troubling issues with hooliganism off the pitch. But whilst Russia have had a chequered history in tournament football, they can always cause a surprise. So read our in-depth guide to Russia at the 2018 World Cup to find out whether they could help you land a winning bet.
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Russia prediction: How well will they do?
The general consensus is that Russia will be seen to be doing well if they manage to reach the knock-out rounds of the 2018 World Cup. Whilst their Group A opposition of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay isn’t the toughest selection of teams, Russia still have a lot of work to do if they want to counter an underwhelming run of form.
Russia kick off the World Cup 2018 in Moscow on 14 June with a game against Saudi Arabia. In theory, this should be a win for Russia, but there’s still plenty of speculation about how head coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, will form his team for the opening match. Both Russia and Saudi Arabia have notoriously leaky defences, and so we are expecting to see plenty of goals in this Group A match, and the hosts will be determined to prove the doubters wrong.
On 19 June, Russia play Egypt in Saint Petersburg. The Egypt team have proven that they can be a tricky team to score against, and Russia’s new generation of strikers might find it tough to break the deadlock. It will be Egypt’s star forward, Mohamed Salah, who could cause the biggest problems for Russia’s unstable defence, but we can expect that the home advantage could be a big deciding factor in what could be a very close match.
Russia’s opening two matches should give them plenty of preparation for their toughest match in Group A. This sees them taking on a tricky Uruguay side in Samara on 25 June and it could be a battle for the top spot if Russia can succeed against Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Uruguay are widely expected to top their group, and Russia will have a difficult task in keeping the formidable striking talents of Luis Suárez at bay.
It’s going to be hard to imagine Russia winning Group A, but we think that they stand a good chance of making it through to the knock-out stages. And if you are feeling really lucky, then you can get odds of 2/1 for Russia to win Group A at 888Sport, whilst the bookie has the team at 30/1 to win the tournament outright.
Journey to the World Cup — Who did Russia beat to qualify?
Russia’s host nation status meant that they didn’t have to go through any qualifying rounds for the FIFA 2018 World Cup. In fact, the team were so desperate for some pre-tournament practice that they even organised a game against club side, Dynamo Moscow, which they thankfully won 3-0.
Despite this, a recent run of friendlies has illustrated that head coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, has managed to get his team to work well together. Last year we saw Russia in commanding form with a 4-2 win over South Korea, whilst a 1-1 draw with Iran and an impressive 3-3 draw with Spain shows that Russia can play quality football.
However, a couple of friendlies in 2018 revealed that Russia still have some way to go if they want to win the World Cup this year. The side suffered a bruising 0-3 friendly defeat by Brazil in Moscow, before being beaten 1-3 by France in Saint Petersburg. And with two further friendlies against the likes of Austria and Turkey before the World Cup kicks off in June, it’s still up for debate whether Cherchesov’s young side has the international experience necessary to cope with the pressure of top-flight football.
Best players for Russia: Who should you be betting on?
After Russia’s woeful performance in Euro 16, there has been real efforts made to introduce a new generation of Russian players to the national team. As a result, we’ve seen experienced defensive legends like Sergei Ignashevich and Alexei Berezutskiy leaving the team, and so it falls to star goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, to try and hold together an inexperienced defensive line-up.
However, there are few new players in the Russia midfield who could transform the team’s recent lacklustre fortunes. Young stars like Aleksandr Golovin have been in great form for CSKA Moscow, and the unique sight of seeing identical twins, Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk, in the Russian midfield could also cause a few issues for their opponents.
Up front, we are looking forward to seeing how FC Krasnodar’s Fyodor Smolov performs on the big stage. But in terms of predicting Russia’s top goalscorer, ComeOn have given FC Zenit Saint Petersburg’s Aleksandr Kokorin odds of 145/1 to pick up the Golden Boot, whilst you can get odds of 195/1 for CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev to win the top goalscorer award for the 2018 World Cup.
Who manages Russia?
Stanislav Cherchesov took over the Russian team after a disastrous Euro 16 campaign. He quickly implemented some radical measures to give the side a facelift which meant introducing plenty of new players, whilst alienating established stars such as Igor Denisov who could be much missed this summer.
Despite his controversial strategies, it’s evident that Cherchesov’s approach has given plenty of confidence to a new generation of Russian players. Whilst there are still doubts as to whether the former Russian goalkeeper has enough top-level experience to help the national team succeed, there is little doubt that a very vocal home support will give Russia that all-important confidence boost when they begin their campaign.
Why bet on Russia?
Betting on Russia is always a risky prospect. Not only have the team not played any qualifying matches to give us a decent idea as to their form, but their head coach has introduced plenty of new players who are still a relatively unknown quantity on the global stage.
We’re predicting that Russia will probably end up in second place in Group A. Saudi Arabia shouldn’t prove to be too much of a problem, and we think that home advantage could give Russia the edge over Egypt. Whilst their game against Uruguay will prove to be very tricky, there’s enough hunger in the Russian side to keep the talented South American team at bay.
Russia’s previous best result at the World Cup was when they reached the semi-finals way back in 1966. At the moment, Betway have Russia at 11/2 to reach the semi-finals this summer, whilst they are also offering you 50/1 for Stanislav Cherchesov’s to defy the doubters and win the tournament on home turf.