As they lost 1-0 away against an Austrian outfit that won’t be featuring at this summers’ footballing festival, Russia’s World Cup preparation campaign continued to stagnate last time out. It’s now six matches since the Russians last tasted victory – not exactly the record you want heading into a major tournament. Even with home advantage, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men will have to do much better when the real thing comes around.
Like Russia’s last opponent, Turkey are another nation who won’t be gracing the World Cup with their presence, though they are unlikely to fear anything ahead of this match. The visitors are unbeaten in four and have been doing a far better job of scoring goals of late than their hosts have.
Russia’s main concern ahead of the World Cup should be their seeming inability to keep things tight. To prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead, the Russians recently opted to take on Argentina, Spain, Brazil and France in quick succession, though facing opposition of the highest quality only highlighted the fact that the tournament hosts are well below the required level, especially from a defensive point of view.
Having conceded ten goals against the four opponents mentioned above, scoring just four in reply, Cherchesov’s men will have fancied themselves to do better against Austria last time out, though they once again disappointed. They may have only conceded once in Innsbruck, but Sbornaya were once again easy to get at – on another day the Austrians would’ve scored two or three. Not only did Russia look typically open at the back, but they looked toothless at the other end, both in terms of creativity and end-product.
Turkey aren’t exactly the highest calibre team, though nor are Austria, so it’s easy to see the hosts once again faltering. The visitors, though not the strongest defensively, ought to be confident of breaching a Russian back-line that has looked somewhat weak in recent times.
Scorers of at least one goal in each of their last five, Turkey have had no problem putting the ball in the back of the net in recent times, although, like the Russians, they have struggled to keep things tight at the back, conceding in four of their last five, as well as in eight of their last ten. Moreover, they’ve conceded two goals in each of their last three away friendlies. Such a record doesn’t bode too well for Mircea Lucescu’s men.
With just one clean sheet between them in 2018, defending is clearly a problem for this pair. Add into the mix the fact that the Russians will very much have a go on their own patch, which could in turn make for an open, end-to-end encounter. So it’s relatively easy to see each side once again coming up short at the back. Based on recent performances, ‘Both Teams to Score’ stands out at the prices.
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