Road To Russia - World Cup Team-By-Team Preview - GROUP A
Gaining automatic qualification as hosts, Russia will be eager to please their notoriously passionate fans. Coach and former Spartak defensive stalwart, Stanislav Cherchesov, has all but reinvented the wheel during his time in charge, with many national team mainstays being replaced by their more youthful counterparts. Russia will most likely begin the tournament in a classic 4-2-3-1, but expect tactical fluidity. At times playing with three central defenders and two offensively-minded wing-backs, Cherchesov has strayed from what is usually a defensively rigid and direct style of play. Expect to still see a deep lying defence, albeit with swift counter-attacks spearheaded by the aforementioned wing-backs, whilst recent additions in midfield will help to link up with talisman Fyodor Smolov upfront.