FIFA World Cup™ finals history
As the Soviet Union, Sbornaya reached the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals at Sweden 1958, Chile 1962 and Mexico 1970. The Eastern Europeans went one better at England 1966, when, inspired by goalkeeper Lev Yashin and forward Igor Chislenko, they topped their group and edged a formidable Hungary, before losing 2-1 to both West Germany in the semis and Portugal in the play-off for third place.

The side have been eliminated at the first hurdle in their three World Cup appearances competing as Russia (1994, 2002 and 2014). They made their mark in the States though, with a crushing 6-1 defeat of Cameroon in which Oleg Salenko scored five goals en route to ending the tournament as joint-leading marksman. After Korea/Japan, they failed to reach the finals until seeing off Portugal to top their Brazil 2014 qualifying group. Despite their impressive qualification, they headed home early from the tournament itself with two draws to their name.

The team
The 2018 hosts’ most prized assets come in midfield, with Victor Fayzulin, Alan Dzagoev and captain Roman Shirokov offering a creative spark. Up front, Alexander Kokorin will be hoping to take the striking mantle from lethal namesake Kerzhakov, while depending on the devilish deliveries of Dmitri Kombarov from wide areas.

The coach
In August 2015 Leonid Slutsky was named as Fabio Capello's replacement, following the Italian's dismissal the previous month. Slutsky has won domestic silverware, including the Russian Premier League, with CSKA Moscow and will lead both the national team and the club until the end of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers.

The stat
1 –
Russia will be hoping they do not join South Africa as the only hosts eliminated at the first stage. To do so, they will have to progress to the knockouts for the first time competing as Russia.

The former stars
Lev Yashin, Eduard Streltsov, Rinat Dasaev, Andrei Arshavin, Valeri Karpin, Aleksandr Mostovoi, Andrei Kanchelskis, Viktor Onopko.