Analysis: Russia should be a team to fear in FIFA World Cup

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Editorial (June 19, 2018) – Russia has earned their World Cup stripes.

Despite automatically qualifying for the tournament due to being the host nation, Russia isn’t being pushed around. Instead, Russia is establishing dominance within their group after two victories against Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Analysis: Russia should be a team to fear in FIFA World Cup

Nobody expected Russia to score three goals against Mohamed Salah and Egypt. However, at Arena St. Petersburg in front of 64,468 fans, Russia scored two goals and had an own goal sent in by Ahmed Fathi.

Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba added to their tournament totals. Currently, Cheryshev is tied alongside Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal for most goals of the FIFA World Cup with three.

Igor Akinfeev completed 163 minutes of action without giving up a goal before Salah netted a penalty kick for Egypt. However, the heartfelt attempt did not garner enough momentum for an Egyptian comeback.

Now, Egypt is facing a fall out from the knockout stages while Russia sits pretty with eight total goals in group action. Uruguay would need seven goals to tie Russia.

Meanwhile, Russia is sitting pretty in first place with all six points.

Smolov takes to the bench:

To start the match, Stanislav Cherchesov elected to make a big decision. The manager for Russia decided to sit striker Fedor Smolov on the bench.

Smolov has been a top striker in the Russian Premier League for the last three season. Last season, he was second on the list of top goal scorers in the league. For the two season before that, from 2015-16 and 2016-17, Smolov was at the top of the list.

He features for FC Krasnodar.

However, Smolov failed to find the back of the net against Saudi Arabia. Instead, Cheryshev found the net twice and Dzyuba, who replaced Smolov in the first match, found his first goal of the tournament.

This time, it was the other way around. In the 79th minute, Smolov replaced Dzyuba, who had scored again, against Egypt.

Smolov’s inclusion or exclusion from the Starting XI against Uruguay will be crucial. He is certainly hungry for his first goal of the tournament — and wants to get to Cheryshev’s level. However, Smolov would settle for one goal.

He has the talent and isn’t injured. However, Russia has so much depth up top that Cherchesov will have a tough decision to make on Monday.

Salah wasn’t fancy — or memorable:

For 73 minutes, Salah was denied by Russia’s defenders Sergey Ignashevich, Ilya Kutepov, Yury Zhirkov, Fedor Kudryashov and Mário Fernandes.

Salah’s penalty kick was a solid strike. He didn’t waltz up with a fancy demeanor, following in the footsteps of Peru’s Christian Cueva. Instead, after kissing the ball, Salah approached the penalty kick with a fierce, serious strike.

The move paid off. However, Salah didn’t have much time to celebrate, as Egypt was in desperation mode for two more goals to draw. Instead, the result wouldn’t come to fruition for Egypt.

Egypt now sits on the brink of elimination.

Should Uruguay win their match tomorrow, Egypt — after suffering two losses — would officially be eliminated from knockout round contention. The highest Egypt could place is third, depending on what Saudi Arabia does.

If Uruguay loses tomorrow, Egypt has a shot of making the knockout round, but it won’t be easy. Egypt would need a win over Saudi Arabia and a loss for Uruguay against Russia.

Cheryshev is Russia’s best right now:

While it’s a toss-up between Dzyuba and Smolov of who should start up top, Denis Cheryshev has cemented his spot in the midfield.

Cheryshev is Russia’s best player right now. Scoring three goals in the World Cup is no easy task. During the match against Saudi Arabia, Cheryshev scored his first international goal.

Not many players in this World Cup can say the only goals they’ve scored in their international career came on the world’s biggest stage.

However, Cheryshev can. He can also say that he’s tied with Cristiano Ronaldo for the most goals in the tournament. Each player has three goals.

Pairing Cheryshev’s name with Ronaldo’s is not a common occurrence. Right now, the Russian fans are continuing their party and chanting Cheryshev’s day.

What’s Next?

Egypt has a lot of work to do and Russia is going to attempt to win their group.

Group A is wide open between Russia and Uruguay for the top spot, should Uruguay win or draw against Saudi Arabia.

If Uruguay wins against Saudi Arabia, then the South American club would need a win over Russia. With Russia’s eight goals in the tournament, a draw would ensure a Russian group victory (unless Saudi Arabia can score eight goals against Saudi Arabia).

While it’s almost set in stone that Russia and Uruguay will advance, the fight for first place is completely open between the two sides.

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