Preview: Russia v New Zealand
Russia set for Confederations Cup debut as tournament begins in Saint Petersburg
Oceania champions seeking first-ever tournament win
Home side much improved under Stanislav Cherchesov
The host nation and the Oceania champions will kick-off the 2017 edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup. All eyes will be on Russia who will be looking to meet expectations by getting their campaign off to a flying start in Saint Petersburg.
What you need to know Russia will not only be opening the tournament but will be making their Confederations Cup debut. This will be an important outing for both sides in a group which also features Portugal and Mexico.
New Zealand are featuring in their fourth Confederations Cup, recording just a single point from nine outings to date. Recent form suggests New Zealand are a tough side to score against, although goals at the other end could be hard to come by.
Russia will be quite a different side from that which turned in a modest display at last year’s UEFA EURO. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has blended in several exciting players for the Sbornaya.
FIFA.com team reporter analysis Igor Borunov with Russia Russia go into the tournament opener as favourites but the question is: can the hosts, who have some young players both in defence and in attack, show their best under psychological pressure? Forward Fedor Smolov will try to terrorise the New Zealand defence from the opening whistle, with an early goal sure to calm any nerves for the home team.
Brendon Hanley with New Zealand Although the Kiwis have struggled to find the net of late, coach Anthony Hudson will probably edge his team toward strong and solid in what figures to be a nervy, physical opener. If the wing-backs struggle to make their way forward, Ryan Thomas and Marco Rojas will look to combine their quickness with the strength and height of Chris Wood.
Possible line-ups Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Georgy Dzhikya, Viktor Vasin, Fedor Kudryashov; Aleksandr Samedov, Denis Glushakov, Aleksandr Erokhin, Dmitry Kombarov; Alexey Miranchuk, Fedor Smolov, Aleksandr Golovin. New Zealand: Stefan Marinovic; Tom Doyle, Andrew Durante, Tommy Smith, Michael Boxall, Kip Colvey; Ryan Thomas, Bill Tuiloma, Michael McGlinchey; Chris Wood, Marco Rojas.