FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia out to prove a point in opener
Igor Akinfeev, Russia's most recognisable player and first-choice goalkeeper for more than a decade, admits his teammates must take the game to the opposition
Host nation Russia are under enormous pressure to perform as they head into tomorrow's World Cup curtainraiser against Saudi Arabia in a contest between the two lowest-ranked nations in the tournament. Stanislav Cherchesov's side will walk out onto the pitch at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium, the historic crucible of Russian sport, ranked a lowly 70th in the world, three spots below Group 'A' rivals Saudi Arabia, and without a victory in eight months.
Igor Akinfeev, Russia's most recognisable player and first-choice goalkeeper for more than a decade, admits his teammates must take the game to the opposition. "The team have to come out and play," Akinfeev said after a 1-0 friendly loss to Austria last month in which Russia managed no shots on target. "If they do not, the score is not going to change." Akinfeev, the Russian captain, has played more games for club and country than Soviet goalkeeping legends Lev Yashin and Rinat Dasayev.
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