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Russia’s Poor Confed Cup Form A Warning Sign For World Cup

Russia's forward Fedor Smolov reacts as he acknowledges the fans after Russia lost 2-1 in the 2017 Confederations Cup group A football match between Mexico and Russia at the Kazan Arena Stadium in Kazan on June 24, 2017. Hosts Russia is eliminated from the tournament. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Russia’s Poor Confed Cup Form A Warning Sign For World Cup

When it comes to spy games and intelligence collection (as well as hand-to hand combat and ice hockey to an extent), Russians hold the wood. But when it comes to the likes of football intelligence and genuine soccer mastery, well, let’s just say that they make the NSA look like Garry Kasparov.

Unsurprisingly, Russia exited the 2018 FIFA Confederations Cup at the Group Stage, bested by worthy World Cup regulars in Portugal and Mexico. Their only noteworthy effort? A straightforward 2-0 shutout victory for the hosts over…unfancied Oceanian power New Zealand.

 

“We have warmed hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month and have given some reasons to feel optimistic,” embattled Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov said. The gaffer is potentially staring at an imminent sack, despite his rebuffs that he will maintain his position. “There are some things we can do, others we can’t, but the team played their hearts out and I don’t think anyone watching on TV or in the stadium can have any doubts about that.”

 

As we noted on our preview of this tournament, Germany, Mexico, Portugal and Chile are well on their way to settling who wins the Confederations Cup. But what of Russia? It is clear that unlike their hockey counterparts, there are no major names that have been heralded.

“Around 75 percent of our players hadn’t played in such a big tournament before,” Cherchesov reminded the media. “Maybe new ones will appear. I hope that our next matches will be played against top teams, we have won the hearts and minds to an extent in this month we have been together and we have some reasons to feel optimistic.”

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@joryansalazar

Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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