World Cup Team Profile - Russia
Coach: Fabio Capello
Captain: Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow)
Full Russia Roster
The Road to Rio: The Russian team was in a dogfight throughout nearly the entire first round of qualification with Portugal. The teams traded 1-0 home victories and surprising results against the group’s other contenders.
When Portugal fell back with back-to-back draws against Northern Ireland and Israel, Russia would let them back in with a road loss to Northern Ireland. The Russians, though, would pounce on a Portuguese draw with Israel in the second last fixture to establish a three-point cushion.
Russia only needed a point on the final day of qualifying for an automatic berth in the World Cup and even then, might have gotten through on differential. Having only conceded five times in 10 games, they held a decided edge over Portugal, but there was still the possibility the Portuguese team dropped a blowout on Luxembourg. Still, they picked up a draw in Azerbaijan to take the group.
Last World Cup appearance: Korea/Japan 2002 (Group Stage)
First World Cup appearance: Sweden 1958 (Quarter-Final, as Soviet Union)
Previous World Cup appearances: 9 (2 as Russia)
After leading CSKA Moscow to the Russian Premier League title, Alan Dzagoev will be one of the key men for Russia as they hope to put together a strong tournament in Brazil.
His pedigree was built in the Euro 2012 tournament where he tied for the lead in tournament goals alongside Mario Balotelli, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic, Mario Gomez, and Fernando Torres.
He will be counted on to score goals but could also be just as important setting up scoring chances for striker Alexander Kherzakov.
With former Real Madrid and England manager Fabio Capello at the helm it will come as no surprise to anyone that Russia qualified with a very defensive minded game plan and will look to utilize the same strategy at the World Cup.
They only conceded five goals in 10 games earning their place in the tournament and a lot of that is thanks to keeper Igor Akinfeev who was named Russian player of the year for CSKA and could be one of the strongest at his position in the tournament.
Belgium might prove to be too tough for Russia but they should be able to earn a win against Algeria. After that it will be between them and South Korea for a place in the knockout stage.