Hosts Russia start Confederations Cup preparations

  • 25 players took part in the Russia's first training session ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup

  • The team head off for a training camp in Austria on Friday

  • First-choice goalkeeper and captain Igor Akinfeev could miss the start of camp through injury

On Thursday, Russia began training in preparation for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 taking place on home soil. In an hour-long session at the Arena Khimki near Moscow, a 25-man squad got the ball rolling ahead of the upcoming tournament.

Three players included in Stanislav Cherchesov’s expanded group did not participate in the first workout for various reasons: Roman Neustadter and Vladimir Gabulov, at Fenerbahce and Arsenal Tula respectively, still have fixtures to play for their clubs, while Zenit Saint Petersburg striker Artem Dzyuba trained separately due to a problem with his knee.

On Friday, the Sbornaya depart for a training camp in Neustift, Austria, where they will be until 3 June, although first-choice goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev will probably join up with his team-mates at a later date.

"Igor practically hasn’t trained in the last few weeks for CSKA Moscow and has just played matches," Cherchesov revealed. "His heel is troubling him. We’ll have a think about it today, but we might leave him in Moscow for a couple of days. Let him stay at home and heal up; it’s important he joins us fit."

(Squad photo)

There is a friendly planned against Hungary on 5 June following the training camp before the team returns to Moscow, where they have another warm-up match against Chile on 9 June. Russia get their Confederations Cup campaign started against New Zealand in the opening match on 17 June in Saint Petersburg.

"New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico are three very interesting opponents,” said midfielder Denis Glushakov. “Will we get to the final? Let’s take things step by step. I’ll only be able to say whether we’re capable of going that far after the three matches in the group stage."

Cherchesov is also cautious about making any predictions for his team, although he did not hesitate when naming who he believes are the favourites at the Tournament of Champions.

"Germany are favourites on paper," the veteran coach declared. "They’re tournament specialists that practically always reach the semi-final or final in every competition. We’re giving them the edge at the moment."

(Training at the Arena Khimki!)