Russia Team Preview

The Players

Igor Akinfeev goalkeeper, CSKA Moscow

Aleksei Kozlov defender, Dynamo Moscow

Georgi Shchennikov defender, CSKA Moscow

Sergei Ignashevich defender, CSKA Moscow

Andrei Semyonov defender, Terek Grozny

Maksim Kanunnikov forward, Rubin Kazan

Igor Denisov midfielder, Dynamo Moscow

Denis Glushakov midfielder, Spartak Moscow

Aleksandr Kokorin forward, Dynamo Moscow

10 Alan Dzagoev midfielder, CSKA Moscow

11 Aleksandr Kerzhakov forward, Zenit St Petersburg

12 Yuri Lodygin goalkeeper, Zenit St Petersburg

13 Vladimir Granat defender, Dynamo Moscow

14 Vasili Berezutski defender, CSKA Moscow

15 Roman Shirokov (captain) midfielder, Krasnodar

16 Sergey Ryzhikov goalkeeper, Rubin Kazan

17 Oleg Shatov midfielder, Zenit St Petersburg

18 Yuri Zhirkov forward, Dynamo Moscow

19 Aleksandr Samedov forward, Lokomotiv Moscow

20 Viktor Fayzulin midfielder, Zenit St Petersburg

21 Aleksei Ionov forward, Dynamo Moscow

22 Andrey Yeshchenko defender, Anzhi Makhachkala

23 Dmitri Kombarov defender, Spartak Moscow

Star man

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Alan Dzagoev briefly illuminated Euro 2012 with his clever running, good feet and fine finishing. Plays on the right of midfield for Capello where his workaholism and pace are used in the manager’s typically efficient system.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
No one. This is a strict regime and the players on national duty are not rebellious. The only hope for discord is if Capello tries on his Stuart Pearce-baiting style argy bargy with one of his band of assistants.

The coach

Perhaps it was Fabio Capello’s Russophile taste in art – Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall are among those whose daubings adorn his walls – that earned him the job of Russia manager. Perhaps it was the five Serie A titles he has amassed as a coach, or the two championships to which he led Real Madrid. Almost certainly it was not the performances of the England team the Fraggle-faced tactician coaxed to such a peak of underwhelmingness in South Africa in 2010.

Grudge match

A rivalry with Poland started 400 years ago and, aided by the odd war and occasional occupation, is still gathering pace, with violence and ribald nationalism puckering Russia’s Polish sojourn in Euro 2012, capped by 183 arrests on the day the two teams drew in Group A. Their most familiar foes are Belgium, who the Soviets faced in 1970, 1982 and 1986 and Russia played in 2002 – the last two games were both lost 3-2, and only the first was won.

Holed up

Germany had been expected to make it their base but when they decided to go elsewhere Russia gladly stepped in. Their training centre at the Estádio Novelli Júnior is almost finished after several delays, and the San Raphael Country Hotel is roaring to go, its Russian TV channels freshly connected.

How they qualified
Finished a point ahead of Portugal at the top of Group F having survived a brief attack of the vapours when losing to the runners-up in Lisbon and Northern Ireland in Belfast.

World Cup high
Fourth place as the USSR in 1966, having been defeated 2-1 by West Germany in the semi-final at Goodison Park but haven’t made it out of the group stages in two appearances as Mother Russia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

World Cup low
Hopeless in 2002, they flattered to deceive with victory over Tunisia before Japan and Belgium shattered the illusion and showed them up as powder-puff and predictable.

Familiar faces
No one

Title odds
66-1

The stereotype is …
Joyless automatons boring the opposition to death through relentless pressing until striker with the build, complexion and naked disappointment of Rodney Trotter nicks one.

The reality is …
Organised, punishingly-fit and tactically-disciplined with a great goalkeeper in Igor Akinfeev and a centre-forward in Aleksandr Kerzhakov with the balance, control and shooting power to hurt most teams.

What they’re known for?
Pussy Riot 19 per cent
Owning London 32 per cent
Polonium 6 per cent
Three centuries of astonishing literature 43 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
Ancestor-given wisdom of our people! Be glorious, our country, our pride!

Duration
Three minutes and 34sec to allow graduates of Trinity College, Cambridge, to substitute the new words for the “Party of Lenin!” version.

How to dress like their fans

Russian fans enjoy the atmosphere
Oligarch chic – £500,000 watches, no ties, pale blue shirts, stubble and the keys to your dreadnought-size yacht jingling in your bodyguard’s trousers.

Commentator’s go-to stat
Russia is the largest country in the world and Capello the highest-paid manager.

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