19:45, Wednesday 30th May, Tivoli Stadion (Tirol, Austria)
Stanislav Cherchesov’s men have lost three and drawn two of their last five friendlies which is not ideal heading into the World Cup next month.
That being said, Russia have picked some rather difficult games to prepare for the tournament as they have faced Argentina, Spain, Brazil, and France – all sides that expect to reach the latter stages of the tournament.
Austria will represent a chance for Russia to get their form back. However, Franco Foda’s men are actually undefeated in their last five games and have not conceded for three matches.
Their previous games, though, were not necessarily the hardest as they defeated Luxembourg, Slovenia, Moldova, Serbia and drew with Georgia.
In qualifying Austria finished with a 15 points, four points from a playoff place.
Franco Foda has called up a strong side for the three friendlies his side will have against teams heading to the World Cup.
These include experienced defenders Sebastian Prodl and David Alaba and attacker Marko Arnautovic.
Stanislav Cherchesov still doesn’t seem to have his best XI nailed down, and that will be something he will hope to figure out before the tournament starts in two weeks.
His preliminary squad contains most of the players that you’d expect for him to have in it though how he uses them is yet to be seen.
Those that have been left out include the likes of defenders Viktor Vasin and Roman Shishkin, midfielder Magomed Ozdoyev, and injured striker Aleksandr Kokorin amongst many others.
Players to watch
An impressive end to the Premier League season for Arnautovic makes him the player for Russia to keep an eye on.
The attacking midfielder is known for his inconsistent performances, but when he is playing with confidence, he is a handful for anyone.
If he plays against Russia, he will have earned his 70th cap and, if he scores, he will have hit 20 goals.
This past season he netted 11 goals in 31 Premier League games for West Ham – proving that he is one of the best players outside the big six clubs in England.
The 21-year-old is one of the most impressive young players in Europe and has his fair share of suitors from the big clubs.
His creativity and skill are there for all to see and Russia will need him playing at 100% if they are to make any serious strides at this summers tournament.
For Austria, it will be important to limit his influence or they will be punished.
Can Austria put another dent in Russia’s preparations?
Russia, as noted earlier, have won none of their last four games in preparation for the World Cup. Imagine if they did not win against Austria?
Fans would be panicked that they will flop at this summer’s tournament and cause embarrassment to the nation.
Cherchesov and his team ought to make sure they can get past Austria or there will be question marks growing over his team’s credentials.
Is the pressure getting to Russia?
While hosting the biggest sporting competition in the world is obviously a positive, for the Russian football team, this may be a burden that they are incapable of bearing.
Imagine if the hosts headed out in the groups? Cherchesov will know he needs to make the quarterfinals or his head will be on the chopping board.
While this may be a warm-up game, it will be a good test to see if the pressure is getting to this group of players.
Prediction: Austria 2-2 Russia
Austria can afford to play a more open game and with no pressure while Russia will have to deal with the expectations of winning.
Expect Cherchesov and his players to struggle with the pressure of this fixture despite it being just a warmup game.
Can Austria dent Russia’s World Cup preparations? Let us know by commenting below.
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