Host countries gain automatic entry to the World Cup, which is the only reason this under-performing Russian squad is getting a run at the tournament. (The team is winless in its last six matches, including a 3-0 loss to Brazil.) Fortunately for the home team, Group A is widely regarded as the weakest of the lot, meaning that coach Stanislav Cherchesov will believe his team can advance. If that’s going to happen, captain and talisman Igor Akinfeev, a goalkeeper, will need to work his magic between the pipes.
Here, portraits of all 23 players on the 2018 World Cup squad.
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