World Cup Team Preview: Russia

The host nation Russia will no doubt be determined to give their home support something to cheer about when they take on Group A at the 2018 World Cup.

As the hosts, Russia earned automatic qualification for the tournament and will now be aiming to make the most of their home-ground advantage.

Russia has selected an experienced squad to represent the country, with centre-back Sergey Ignashevich called up at the age of 38 while former Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev are also hardened veterans.

Heading into the World Cup, Russia has endured a difficult run of friendly results. After beating Dynamo Moscow 3-0 they lost 3-0 to Brazil before a 3-1 defeat to France and a 1-0 defeat to Austria.

Also in Group A are Uruguay, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Uruguay is expected to win the group, while Saudi Arabia is likely finishing bottom, which means Russia will need to battle it out with Egypt for a place in the knockout phase.

Russia was knocked out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Russia squad

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Club Brugge), Andrey Lunev (Zenit St Petersburg).

Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Fedor Kudryashov (both Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Akhmat Grozny), Sergei Ignashevich, Mario Fernandes (both CSKA Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg).

Midfielders: Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Alexsandr Golovin, Alan Dzagoev (both CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Erokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev (all Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Zobnin, Alexsandr Samedov (both Spartak Moscow), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal).

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Aleksey Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar).