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Last World Cup: Did not qualify
Nickname: The Selection
Coach: Fabio Capello
Star man: Alexander Kokorin
Tournament best: Fourth 1966 (as the USSR)

Russia's recent World Cup record is a story of failure but Brazil offers the 2018 hosts the chance to start redressing the balance. Having missed three of the last four tournaments and not progressed beyond the group stage since 1986, topping Group F ahead of Portugal suggests things may be about to improve with the promise offered by 22-year-old forward Kokorin backed by the experience of the likes of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and striker Alexander Kerzhakov.

Strengths: During qualifying Russia didn't concede once from outside the area, one of just four teams not to do so, and never conceded more than once in a match. They tended to start purposefully up front, with only three sides scoring a greater share of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches.

Weaknesses: Russia have seen their FIFA ranking drop more than any other qualifying nation in the last 12 months, losing over 200 points and dropping 13 places. While their overall defensive record was strong, they looked vulnerable from headers and deliveries from wide positions, which each accounted for over half the goals they conceded. They also failed to recover any points from games in which they fell behind.

Prospects: With their goals mainly coming from the centre during qualifying, Russia won't be thrilled to learn that their three Group H opponents are all much more vulnerable down the flanks, so a change in game plan may be required. Both Algeria and South Korea are capable of producing the long balls that Russia found tricky to defend during qualifying, with the Algerians also adept at scoring from headers. This won't be a straightforward group to get out of by any means.

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