Russia coach Fabio Capello has said that the fact every member of his 23-man squad play in their homeland is holding back Russian football.
Capello's men need to beat Algeria in their final FIFA World Cup™ Group H match on Thursday to have a chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They have taken just one point from their opening two fixtures against Korea Republic and Belgium.
"I think that playing abroad helps everyone mature and improve," the former England boss said on Wednesday. "Russia hadn't participated in a World Cup for 12 years and we have to remember that. If you always play in the same championship it is very difficult to improve."
However, Capello defended his record in charge of the side and said they were building slowly towards the World Cup on home soil in four years time. "I think the fact we have made it here is a positive thing. After 12 years we have come back to the World Cup, which is a positive step.
"We can't do everything overnight, it takes a lot of planning. It was an important leap to get here to let us understand the level of football in Russia and it allows us to know what we need to do better in 2018."
And Capello remains confident that his side will produce their best performance of the tournament when they need it most against Algeria in Curitiba. "We've always tried to win, even against Belgium. We did the same against South Korea, but unfortunately we were beaten in the last minutes by Belgium and we know that now we have to win.
"The objective is elementary, it is basic, we have to win in any way possible we and that is what we are going to try and do."