World Cup hosts Russia seek French redemption
Saint Petersburg (AFP)
After getting well beaten by Brazil, Stanislav Cherchesov says his Russia side must step it up a notch in their next World Cup warm up match against France on Tuesday.
Cherchesov's men were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish by the five time champions in a 3-0 loss on Friday in Moscow.
It was a deflating performance that left 2018 World Cup hosts Russia with just one win against South Korea in October in their last five warm up friendlies.
Russia's problems have been compounded by a string of injuries that ruled out two starting defenders Georgy Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin and a top striker Alexander Kokorin for the June to July final.
Cherchesov stayed positive by calling Friday's performance better than the one Russia showed in a 1-0 loss to Argentina in November.
But he admitted that he held a team meeting after the Brazil match to regroup.
"The defeat did not make us very happy and we held a little meeting," Cherchesov said after Monday's training session.
"Tomorrow we have a chance to redeem ourselves. We want to show much better quality against France."
Russia's training session began after a minute's silence held for the 64 victims of a fire that engulfed a shopping mall in Siberia on Sunday.
World Cup organisers and the world football governing body FIFA expressed their "heartfelt condolences" in a joint statement.
Tuesday's clash in the brand new Saint Petersburg Stadium pits two teams thirsting for a win.
France want to avoid ending their World Cup preparations on a sour note after giving up a 2-0 lead and losing 3-2 to Colombia at the Stade de France.
And Cherchesov is desperate to restore team confidence heading into Russia's first home World Cup.
Yet his streak of bad luck continued over the weekend with the loss of three more players for Tuesday's game.
Spartak Moscow midfielder Daler Kuzyayev had an old foot problem flair up and returned to his club.
His Zenit Saint Petersburg counterpart Roman Zobnin suffered a knee injury while Rubin Kazan defenceman Ruslan Kambolov developed an undisclosed muscle strain.
All three are expected to be healthy for the World Cup.
Cherchesov will also play reserve goalkeeper Andrei Lunev of Zenit Saint Petersburg instead of CSKA Moscow's veteran Igor Akinfeev.
Lunev was accidentally kneed in the face by Rodrigo Moreno and stretchered off at the end of Russia's 3-3 draw against Spain in November.
Cherchesov wants to see Lunev put in a steady display that can guarantee his spot as Akinfeev's backup.
Russia will have one last chance to fine-tune their squad on May 30 in Innsbruck against Austria and June five against Turkey in Moscow.
© 2018 AFP