Russian federation, coaches and players react to World Cup draw
Russia was in Pot A in the draw as the hosts of the competition in 2018 despite being the lowest ranked team in the draw. Members of the Russian federation and National Team revealed their thoughts of the draw to the Football Union of Russia.
Vitaly Mutko – President of the Football Union of Russia
“It is hard to predict who will go to the playoff. The group is equal and all the teams have chances. We do not know the team of Saudi Arabia well, but for sure this team is disciplined and uncompromising. We do not need to make any forecasts, as at Euro 2016 we first drew with the England, and then lost twice,” Mutko told the federation’s website.
Stanislav Cherchesov – Head coach of the Russian National Team
“It cannot be said whether the draw was good or not until the games of the World Cup 2018 group stage are played. We perceive the line-up of our group as a given. As for our rivals, at the moment we do not have any information about these teams, we never met them. Of course, in the rivals’ lineups can several remarkable players can be noted. The team of Egypt has such a forward – Mohammed Salah. At the upcoming Champions League match between “Liverpool” and “Spartak”, I will observe his game as well. In the lineup of Uruguay, such forwards as Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez have excelled. But these are all just names, and we have to encounter the rivals to know them in action. In any case, the football field will decide everything. We are going to collect data about these teams,” Cherchesov revealed to the Federation website.
Mohamed Salah and Liverpool will take on Russian side Spartak on Wednesday night in the last match of the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
Fedor Smolov – FK Krasnodar and Russia forward:
“Uruguay is one of the leaders of South America, so everything is clear with this team. It is a constant participant of the final stages. Uruguayans always fight for the Cup of South America. Leaders and most players play in Europe and in the top clubs on leading roles. In my opinion, Uruguay is the favorite of our group,” Smolov began.
“I did not pay much attention to Egypt, but I know that they actively celebrated the entrance to the World Championship at home, yet the Egyptians are not a frequent guest at the tournament. Of course, it is impossible not to single out Mohamed Salah. He plays in Liverpool, being its leader,” Smolov reflected.
“As for the national team of Saudi Arabia it’s hard to say something. I did not follow the matches of this team either. It seems to me that it resembles the team of Iran, which plays power football: it imposes a struggle, does not concede, being physically superior to many teams. And once again I repeat: there are no simple rivals at the World Cup,” he said.
Rinat Bilyaletdinov – Honored Coach of Russia:
“I’ve got good impressions from the draw, for us it has developed successfully. But we have already gone through this lots of times. Everything is well, and still then something goes wrong. It becomes evident if you dig deeper in the latest world and European championships. But, upon the whole, the toss has smiled to us with a good lineup in the group. The first match we play with the team from the fourth basket, then – the third, then – the second. It’s convenient –the last match we play with Uruguay, if we have not squandered the first two. But, if squandered – this match can become the one of “life and death”. Who is the strongest rival of the Russian team in the group? It is undoubtedly Uruguay. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are unstable teams with a low rating,” Bilyaletdinov determined.
Ruslan Nigmatullin – former Spartak and Russia goalkeeper:
“The draw is very favorable. The main thing is not to have euphoria, which can do harm: both Saudi Arabia and Egypt need and can be beaten, but we have to be well prepared and maximally tuned as to a game against Brazil. In general, everything is positive, optimistic. Each team has its own strengths and weaknesses. In any case, we have a good calendar. In the first two games, our team can secure a way out to the playoffs. It is clear that further there are Portugal and Spain, but it is too early to look there, Nigmatullin began.
“The main competitor for the first place is Uruguay, which includes world-class players: Cavani, Godin. Besides they have a good goalkeeper – Muslera. Those players are the backbone on which this team is built. Uruguay is a very difficult opponent. Egypt and Saudi Arabia, of course, are one level lower,” he continued.
“The main leader in the Egyptian team is the goalkeeper, who is even older than me. I’m done, and he’s still playing. In the summer we will see him in Russia. Egypt has not been selected for the World Cup for a long time. Therefore, the very fact of getting it into the final stage deserves respect. Saudi Arabia has only one legionary, the other players are from the domestic championship. The team is completely passable,” Nigmatullin concluded.
Vladimir Gabulov – Arsenal Tula and Russia goalkeeper:
“The draw was successful; the group is good, quite capable. Of course, all teams that participate in the final part of the World Cup have a certain level, and there will be no weak teams. But it’s clear that you can play with each team and you can win. Of course, a team headed by Cavani and Suarez stands apart. As for Saudi Arabia and Egypt, I know less of the qualities of these teams. In the national team of Egypt, Salah can be distinguished, and once the team reached the final part, it speaks about its level. It’s important to play your best, not to be afraid of anything, be bold in the field as a host and win in every match. Then everything will be fine,” Gabulov told the Federation website.
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