Without a win in its last six friendlies, Russia could struggle for goals in Group A against Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Just getting out of the group is likely to be considered a success for Russia, which lost 1-0 to Austria on Wednesday and has a final friendly Tuesday at home to Turkey.
Striker Alexander Kokorin misses the tournament with injury, meaning that forwards Fyodor Smolov and Artyom Dzyuba are under pressure to perform on home soil.
The 38-year-old center-back Sergei Ignashevich will be one of the oldest players at the World Cup after coming out of international retirement for one last tournament. He’s still seven years younger than Egypt’s goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary, who can become the oldest player to take the field at a World Cup.
Russia was long renowned for its identical twins in defense, Vasily and Alexei Berezutsky. They retired from international football last year, but the team will bring another set of twins to the World Cup in the shape of speedy 22-year-olds Anton and Alexei Miranchuk. Anton has a central midfield role, while Alexei is more of an attacking threat, able to play on either flank or through the center.
Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev captains the team and is one of four survivors from the Russian squad which reached the European Championship semifinals in 2008. The others are Gabulov, Ignashevich and left wing-back Yuri Zhirkov.
Russia hasn’t got past the group stage of any tournament since 2008.
Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has played with a three-man defense since he was appointed in 2016, but switched to four at the back for Wednesday’s defeat to Austria.
Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the tournament on June 14 at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Brugge), Andrei Lunyov (Zenit St. Petersburg).
Defenders: Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Rubin Kazan), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Fyodor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrei Semyonov (Akhmat Grozny), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St. Petersburg).