World Cup a Distant Memory for Struggling Russia

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Russia head to the European Championships having struggled to build on their run at the World Cup and may find it tough to get beyond the group stage.

Artem Dzyuba has been a reliable source of goals for Russia in recent years.

Plenty has changed since Russia’s remarkable run as hosts to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup and it is difficult to envisage Stanislav Cherchesov’s men causing a similar stir at this summer’s European Championships – a competition the nation made the semi-finals of back in 2008.

Following their run to the last eight three years ago, Russia sailed through qualifying for The Euros, winning eight of their ten group matches, scoring 33 goals and conceding only eight.

But the level of competition in their qualifying group was not great. They finished above a Scotland team in transition and weak Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino sides, while barely laying a glove on group winners Belgium in their two meetings, losing 7-2 on aggregate in their matches with the Red Devils.

If that did not serve as an indication of their recent decline, then their performances in the latest edition of the Nations League certainly did.

Chechesov’s men were disappointing in League B, finishing the group with a 2-2-2 record and losing their last match 5-0 against Serbia. All indications are that they could struggle in Group B of the European Championships, in which they will face Belgium, Denmark and Finland.

Problems From Back to Front for Chechesov

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov.

Their most recent defeat highlighted issues with a defence which had been marshalled by brothers Vasili and Aleksei Berezutski for years but which now lacks consistency.

Russia went through three managers in six years before appointing Cherchesov, who has been in charge since 2016, but he has struggled to find an effective starting 11 and has continued to switch between three and four at the back to no avail.

The situation is not much better at the other end of the pitch. Captain Artem Dzyuba has been a reliable source of goals over the years, firing 26 in his 47 appearances for the national team but the 32-year-old now looks past his best.

It is a similar situation for 2018 World Cup star Denis Cheryshev, who has struggled to make an impact at Valencia with injuries limiting his game time.

Fyodor Chalov harbours potential but is yet to score for his country after three caps while Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk can be dangerous creative outlets on their day. But it is another midfielder who will shoulder the bulk of Russia’s hopes going into the Euros.

Golovin Holds the Key to Any Russian Success

Aleksandr Golovin burst onto the scene at the 2018 World Cup and has since gone from strength-to-strength.

A danger in both boxes, the 24-year-old missed four months of this season through injury but has made a noticeable impact at Monaco since his return, firing a hat-trick against Nimes at the start of February. He will be an exciting watch.

At 80/1, Russia are by no means expected to go all the way and could even struggle to make an impact in Group B with the side 9/2 to win their section. That price might tempt those who think that playing on home soil, as they did for the World Cup, could inspire them with two of Russia’s three games to be staged in Saint Petersburg.

They ultimately look too short of quality to cause Belgium and Denmark any problems but they could give their fans something to cheer about with victory over Finland in the group stage.

Russia get their campaign off to the toughest possible starts against one of the tournament favourites in Belgium on Saturday, June 12 in Saint Petersburg. The Red Devils are 20/27 favourites, with a Russia win 19/5.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Liam Flin is an occasional contributor to the MansionBet Blog. He holds a keen interest football, cricket, cycling and esports. See his insights & tips here.

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