Russia have concluded their preliminary group stage play and are officially moving on to the round of 16 on home soil. Russia started their campaign with a bang, smashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 and taking it to Mo Salah’s Egypt 3-1. Despite their strong start Russia flopped against group leader Uruguay in a 3-0 defeat. The 35 minute red card was a massive factor but it was just not Russia’s day.
Sure, Russia drew the “easy” group but that consisted of one of (if not) the best players of last season in Salah, and the tied leader for most goals in World Cup qualifying in Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (albeit in an easier qualifying group). The competition was still on paper world class, so credit has to be given to Russia there.
The disheartening news is that they faced real adversity once in this tournament and crumbled. They conceded a bad free kick and were scored on, hammered in an own goal, and took a red card in the first half alone. When the pressure was on they failed – So my final verdict is that if they score first they are the Real Deal, if not it’ll be early curtains for the home nation against Spain.