Russia have been formed to name a rather depleted squad for the Confederations Cup later this month with nine of their Euro 2016 participants not making the list.
Manager Stanislav Cherchesov has decided to go with untested bunch of players for the showpiece event in their home nation with Yuri Zhirkov and Igor Akinfeev among the highly-experienced players in the squad.
Zhirkov, who is a left-back by trade, has the versatility to pop up anywhere across the field, and the nation will be counting on him to guard the backline, which lacks the presence of Vasily Berezutsky and Sergei Ignashevich. Akinfeev has been the undisputed number one for CSKA and Russia over the years, and he will have to be in his best form, in order to push the nation towards success.
Smolov is likely to lead the line for the Russians during the Confederations Cup with his compatriot Artyom Dzyuba in the physio room alongside several other key players including Alan Dzagoev and Roman Zobnin. Russia earned a valuable draw against Chile in an international friendly, and this provides them a lift as they take on Oceania champions New Zealand in the opener.
All Whites skipper Winstein Reid is out with a long-term injury, and this could easen the Russia’s pursuit of a win, should they manage to keep Championship top-scorer Chris Wood at bay. Russia then host Portugal and Mexico in their remaining two group games with the former likely to be their toughest test owing to the presence of one superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Zhirkov has recently pushed himself into a midfield role for his club, and he could be in-charge of the tough tackling duties at Russia look to reach the heights of Euro 2008 where they propelled to the semi-final stage against the odds.