Russia Exceeding World Cup Expectations so Far
Russia came into the World Cup without a win in seven games and most people had a sneaky feeling they could struggle playing in their home tournament. Two games in and they have six points, sit top of Group A and have scored an impressive eight goals. Perhaps the Russians aren't too bad afterall. Coming into the tournament, the pressure was mounting on the Russians, but what they have done brilliantly so far in this tournament is handle it and use it as a positive, rather than a negative. Playing in the opening game is not easy, but they used the energy they had from their home crowd to lift them past Saudi Arabia. The same happened again when they faced Egypt, and now, unless Saudi Arabia pull something special out of the bag when they face Uruguay on Wednesday, Russia will be in the last 16.
The Russians came into this tournament as the 70th ranked nation, which made them the lowest of any team at the World Cup. While they may not play as well when going outside of Russia, or when things are against them, we have already seen that they are strong when at home. They have used their home crowd well so far, something they will hope to do in their final game of the group stages, a likely decider for who finishes top of the table with Uruguay.
When things have gone their way, the Russians have expertly jumped at the opportunity in front of them, and grabbed it with both hands. They scored an early goal against Saudi Arabia to ignite the World Cup, and never took their foot off the gas against them. In the game against Egypt, they were fortunate with an own goal, but used that to raise their game and eventually they ran out relatively comfortable 3-1 winners against Egypt.
It's going to be interesting when Russia play someone of real quality, but right now there is a lot to like about what they are doing. Redbet have trimmed Russia into 40/1 to lift the World Cup, and they are just 47/20 to beat Uruguay in their final group game, which takes place on Monday June 25. The Russians are at their best when playing with confidence and self belief, and right now the home fans are believing that this team can go somewhere this summer, something that will only inspire the players even further.