World Cup Preview, Group H: Russia
We are looking at Group H today and the team led by Fabio Capello, Russia.
Alan Dzagoev is an attacking midfielder who plays for CSKA Moscow. He's only 23 but he has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. However, he played down these rumours claiming that he would prefer a move to the Premier League in England instead. He is the youngest ever player to make his debut for the Russian national team when he came on as a substitute against Germany back in 2008 aged 18.
He announced himself on the world stage back in Euro 2012 with some fine performances including two goals against the Czech Republic in their opening match. He went on to score again against Poland which resulted in him being joint tournament top scorer with such luminaries as Cristian Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli, Mario Mandzukic and Fernando Torres. He's a player of great quality who knows where the back of the net is and with an eye for a killer pass. He will be hugely important to Russia at the World Cup.
23 year old Dynamo Moscow striker, Aleksandr Kokorin is a player to keep an eye on. A lethal finisher and he can also play the role of the second striker. Several of Europe's big clubs are now having a look at Kokorin and it has prompted his club, to slap a €19 million release clause into his contract.
Did you know?
Georgi Schennikov who is a defender in the Russian World Cup squad is the son of Olympic Silver Medalist for walking, Mikhail.
Reasons for Irish fans to support them
There are a lot of Russian people working and living in Ireland. It would be nice to show our solidarity with them as they set off on their World Cup odyssey.
If they were a TV series
They'd be Big Brother. People go about their daily business, but you always know, someone is watching.
Russia are the perennial underachievers in major tournaments. They have always showed glimpses of magic, but ultimately never seem to have the staying power to launch a serious assault on a big tournament. They do have Fabio Capello as their manager and this could prove to be the difference between them doing what they always do, which is to disappoint or to flourish and really make a mark on the World Cup.
They are in one of the weaker groups and will be expected to qualify alongside Belgium. You would think that whoever wins this group will avoid playing Germany in the second round. If Russia can finish ahead of Belgium in the group, I think they can make the quarter-finals at least.