So much for the idea that Russia can play with the big boys of international soccer.
The World Cup hosts entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked team in the 32-team field, but they
looked like world-beaters in disposing of Saudi Arabia (5-0) and Egypt (3-1).
The wins assured Russia of a spot in the round of 16 and ended local concerns that it might join South Africa
in 2010 as the only World Cup host not to make it out of the first round.
But Monday's 3-0 loss to Uruguay confirmed Russia's problems when it plays a team with attacking stars like
and Edinson Cavani
, who both scored, and an organized defense. What's next ... June 30
Uruguay (Winner Group A) vs. Portugal (Runner-up Group B), in Sochi (2 pm ET, Fox, Telemundo) July 1
Russia (Runner-up Group A) vs. Spain (Winner Group B), in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (10
am ET, Fox, Telemundo)
What should be most concerning is that Russia knew what it was up against but was helpless to stop La Celeste on all three goals, which came off set-pieces.
“In our training sessions, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov
said, "we played against these set-pieces and today our opponents scored from set-pieces. We wanted to stop this, but
we could not succeed.”
Cherchesov also criticized his players for taking their foot off the pedal after two big wins against albeit weak opponents.
“It is an art
to be prepared and not just think you are prepared,” he said. “We were not very successful at this in the beginning and we need to not be as relaxed as we were today.”
Group A ...
Thursday, June 14 Russia
5 Saudi Arabia
0. (Gazinskiy 12, Cheryshev 43, 90+1,
Dzyuba 71, Golovin 90+4. Att.: 78,011.)
Friday, June 15 Uruguay
0. (Gimenez 89. Att.: 27,015.) Tuesday, June 19
1. (Own goal 47, Cheryshev 59, Dzyuba 62; Salah pen. Att.:
64,468.) Wednesday, June 20 Uruguay
1 Saudi Arabia
0. (Suarez 23. Att.: 42,678.)
Monday, June 25
(Suarez 10, own goal 23, Cavani 90. Att.: 41,970.)
(Al Faraj pen. 45+6, Al Dawsari 90+5; Salah 22. Att.: 36,823.)
, 9 points (5-0) 2. Russia
, 6 points (8-4)
----------------------------- 3. Saudi Arabia
, 3 points
, 0 points (2-6)
In parentheses is goal difference.