The Russian team exceeded expectations on their home turf in this year’s World Cup. They opened the tournament with a massive 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, and then defeated Egypt 3-1 despite superstar Mo Salah’s best efforts. A loss against Uruguay did not interfere with their getting past the group phase.
Then, they took their match against Spain to penalties and pulled an upset, sending home the winners of the 2010 World Cup. Russia was only knocked out by Croatia (the eventual runners-up of the tournament). Very few, even on the best online betting sites in the United Kingdom, had expected Russia to reach the quarter-finals.
They cannot afford to rest on their laurels, though. The UEFA Nations League is going to begin in the Fall. This new tournament (whose rules are explained here) could earn them an early qualification for the 2020 European Championship. Should they win their group, they will be promoted to League A, where they will have even better chances of qualifying for future Euros.
What tactics will Russia employ at the Nations League?
Russia does not lack attacking potential. Denis Cheryshev’s four World Cup goals prove this (only Harry Kane scored more than him). To illustrate how impressive his technique is: two of his goals were nominated for the Hyundai Goal of the Tournament Award.
Still, what gives them the most results is their defense. They have proven capable of holding out even “against a mountain of Spanish possession,” as The Guardian has put it. Their stubborness could be witnessed when they concentrated on closing off Spain’s corridors even when they were a goal down and were expected to come out. It paid off: Russia equalized from a set-piece and waited for the penalty shoot-out, where they handled the pressure better.
A reliance on set-pieces and counter-attacks can also be expected from them in the Nation League. Such a safe style of play might not make Russia the most spectacular team but their fighting spirit shows through and earns them the respect of football fans.
Are Russia’s UEFA Nations League odds better than those of the other teams in their group?
Russia was drawn with Sweden and Turkey in League B Group 2. At 2.35, they are the bookies’ favorite to win their group. However, Sweden is close behind: they have 2.70 betting odds on the best online betting sites in Sweden. Turkey’s victory is less likely but not unimaginable at 3.20.
Russia’s best bet is to force a draw with Sweden and beat Turkey.
Russia’s match against Sweden will be a particularly hard one, because they have also started playing defensive football after Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from international football. Russia’s best bet is to force a draw with Sweden and beat Turkey. This is a realistic goal for them, especially since Turkish football suffers from a number of problems, for instance that “money is not being invested where it should be.”
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