World Cup 2014: Russia preview - Shatov to shine; weather a big problem

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Russia face a battle to get out of an even group involving Belgium, South Korea and Algeria.

The perception

Russia are a solid, dedicated side with an Italian boss who knows how to get results. With that in mind they should make the second round.

The reality

2008 was a long time ago and Russia's latest golden generation is fading. There are some talents in this team that will certainly cause issues for big teams - but no Arshavin's to set the world alight. A struggle with South Korea seems likely.


The side have real strength in depth across the midfield area. The likes of Alan Dzagoev, Igor Denisov, Roman Shirokov, Victor Faizulin are all excellent players who retain possession well. The fact all 23 players ply their trade in Russia could also act as a bonding strength.


The weather. An entire squad of players used to playing in cold Russian football living and training in the heat of Brazil - they will have to adapt swiftly or face an untimely exit.

Saying that they recently beat South Korea in a Dubai friendly 2-1 - so hope can be taken from that fixture.

Key Player

Sergei Ignashevich is to Capello's Russia what Terry was to Capello's England. The Italian puts his trust in the 34-year-old CSKA Moscow defender and is repaid in kind.

He, along with centre-back partner Vasiliy Berezutsky will need to be in top form this summer.

One to Watch

CSKA's mercurial attacker Dzagoev is always worth a mention but the player who can make this his breakthrough tournament is Zenit's young midfielder Oleg Shatov.

The 23-year-old has had a great season and is a potential star of this team for years to come.


It will be tough for Russia in a group many are expecting Belgium to dominate. That said if Capello organises this team correctly they should advance to the next stage, but any further seems unlikely.

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