World Cup 2018 hosts Russia surprised everyone when they reached the quarter-finals, eliminating Spain in the process.
The team has aged since then however, and not many promising youngsters have burst onto the scene. Igor Akinfeev has retired and they have struggled to replace the veteran shot-stopper. They will be hoping to make the knockout stages again this summer but face tough group opponents in Belgium and a resurgent Denmark side.
Group B: RUSSIA, Denmark, Belgium, Finland.
Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov
Odds (PP): 60/1
Recent Tournaments: World Cup 2018 (quarter-finals), Euro 2016 (group stage)
FIFA World Ranking: 38th
Artem Dzyuba. Like 2018, the 6’6 striker is still Russia’s main man. He managed three goals and two assists in five games at the World Cup and will be looking for a similar return this time around. At 32, he is still quite prolific, notching 20 goals and eight assists in just 27 league games for Zenit this season. Russia have named a provisional 29-man squad, which will be trimmed down to 26 by June 1st.
Russia have named their 26 man squad for the tournament. 23 of the 26 play their club football in Russia. While this is good for the domestic game it shows the lack of top Russian talent across Europe’s elite clubs.
They have not found a solid keeper since Akinfeev’s retirement and Dynamo Moscow’s Anton Shunin will likely start in goal.
In defence Spartak Moscow’s Giorgi Dzhikiya is selected and set to start, having missed the World Cup 2018 through injury. Selected Alongside him is Fyodor Kudryashov, who started in 2018. Former Chelsea left back Yuri Zhirkov has been remarkably selected. He started the Semi-Final against Spain at Euro 2008, aswell as the quarter-final against them a decade later at World Cup 2018. At 37, this will surely be his last tournament.
Brazilian born right back Mario Fernandes is also named. He was a key member of the 2018 side, scoring against Croatia in the quarter final.
Spartak midfielder Roman Zobnin is selected and is sure to line-up at the heart of Russia’s midfield, partnering him in the engine room will be Zenit’s Magomed Ozdoyev.
Denis Cheryshev is selected despite not featuring much in an overall poor campaign for Valencia. The winger made just 22 goalless appearances.
2018 poster-boy Aleksandr Golovin is in and will likely line-up behind the attack. His form at the World Cup earned him a move to Monaco but he has not really kicked on since then, he will be hoping to rediscover his best form this summer.
Atalanta’s Aleksei Miranchuk makes the cut despite limited club minutes as his twin brother Anton, who is still at Lokomotiv Moscow, misses out. Artem Dzyuba leads the attack and joining him is Spartak’s Aleksandr Sobolev, who also has had a good domestic campaign with 15 goals and 5 assists in 23 games this season.
One to Watch
Aleksei Miranchuk. The Former Lokomotiv forward earned himself a move to Atalanta last summer. Despite struggling for minutes in a stacked attacking department he has scored from the bench when given the opportunity and his trickery and good movement will give Russia a second dimension to the usual arial route taken towards Dzyuba’s forehead.
Goalkeepers: Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow), Yury Dyupin (Rubin Kazan), Matvei Safonov (Krasnodar)
Defenders: Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Fyodor Kudryashov (Antalyaspor), Georgi Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow), Igor Diveev (CSKA Moscow), Vyacheslav Karavayev (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Andrei Semenov (Akhmat)
Midfielders: Dmitri Barinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Arsen Zakharyan (Dinamo Moscow), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow), Denis Makarov (Rubin), Denis Cheryshev (Valencia), Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco), Aleksei Ionov (Krasnodar), Daler Kuzyayev (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Magomed Ozdoev (Zenit), Andrei Mostovoy (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Daniil Fomin (Dynamo Moscow), Rifat Zhemaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Maksim Mukhin (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Zenit Saint Petersburg), Aleksandr Sobolev (Spartak Moscow), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta)