Friday, July 20, 2018

Prediction: Russia vs Brazil

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: William Hill

There will be quite a few football fans around the world hoping to see hosts Russia and red-hot Brazil in the 2018 World Cup final and Friday’s friendly at Luzhniki will serve as a good opportunity for both managers to see where their respective teams are some three months before the highly anticipated tournament is due to start.

Russia

Russia have been preparing for the World Cup finals on home soil for almost four years now, but the team are still far from the desired form and many believe they cannot be regarded as serious title contenders in spite of the expected vociferous support from the stands all over the country. Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov has tested plenty of more or less famous players since taking over the reigns in August 2016, and he has been criticised for also including naturalised players Roman Neustadter and Mario Fernandes, so he clearly faces a tough task to win over the general public as well as makes his side competitive at the highest level.

As far as Russia’s recent performances are concerned, these have left a lot to be desired, although narrow defeat to Argentina and 3-3 draw with Spain can be seen as steps in the right direction. However, the hosts have now received a major blow as important forwards Aleksandr Kokorin has been ruled out of the 2018 World Cup after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, and it remains to be seen whether this will persuade Cherchesov to recall Artem Dzyuba, who has impressed since joining Arsenal Tula on loan.

Team News

Aleksandr Kokorin misses out through injury, whereas Viktor Vasin, Mario Fernandes and Dmitry Poloz have been overlooked.

Brazil

Even though Tite took over the reigns from Carlos Dunga with the 2014 World Cup embarrassment still fresh in the mind, the highly rated coach has coped really well with the pressure and appears to have succeeded in getting Brazil to back where they belong. The Selecao largely impressed to win the South American Zone of the WC qualifiers with 10 points to spare, losing just one of 18 matches against strong opposition.

Brazil have since continued with strong performances, defeating Japan on the road before sharing spoils with England on the road, and they also have friendly games vs Russia, Germany, Croatia and Austria to negotiate before the action starts in Russia. Tite will use said fixtures to further tune up his side as well as hand one last chance to some outsiders to stake their claim for a ticket on the plane, and such will be the case with this match.

Team News

Neymar, Alex Sandro and Filipe Luis all miss out through injury, whereas Talisca, Willian Jose, Luis Neto and Ismaily are the four uncapped players in the squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Brazil won 13 of last 17 matches (D3 L1)
  • The Selecao won 11 of last 12 friendlies on the road (D1)
  • They conceded just 4 goals in those 12 matches
  • Brail unbeaten in last three meetings with Russia (W2 D1)
  • Russia winless in last three and missing Aleksandr Kokorin

Conclusion

While Russia continue to struggle and are missing several high-profile players, Brazil can be expected to continue the rich vein of form and kick off 2018 with a win. The match against such a strong opposition is bound to expose all Sbornaya’s weaknesses.

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: William Hill

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