Russia vs New Zealand preview

June 15, 2017
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

The clash between hosts Russia and minnows New Zealand will mark the start of the 2017 Confederations Cup, a traditional dress rehearsal for the World Cup finals.

With Portugal and Mexico also in Group A, both sides will be hoping for a winning start of the tournament in Sankt Petersburg.

Russia have been going through a very rough patch of late despite heavy investments in the Russian Premier League, and the team had a pretty disappointing Euro 2016 tournament.

Stanislav Cherchesov has since taken over the reigns from Leonid Slutsky, and he did manage t shake things up, introducing a lot of new players and getting rid of Aleksandr Kokorin and Oleg Shatov, among others.

These changes were always going to need time before producing results, but lengthy preparations for the 2017 Confederations Cup have come at the right time.

We could definitely see improvement in performances against Hungary and Chile, but it remains to be seen whether Russia can take that form into competitive games.

Sbornaya Komanda have been made 1.33 (1/3) favourites to see off New Zealand in their opening fixture, and we are backing them to start with a win.

Stanislav Cherchesov will have to make do without Artem Dzyuba and Roman Zobnin as they miss out through injury, but he has no other worries.

Probable starting line-up (5-4-1): Akinfeev – Smolnikov, Shishkin, Vasin, Kudryashov, Zhirkov – Samedov, Glushakov, Golovin, Smolov – Bukharov.

New Zealand clearly profited the most from Australia’s decision to leave Oceanic Zone of World Cup qualifiers, making it to only their second World Cup finals in 2010.

At the same time, they won four OFC Nations Cup trophies since 1998, and this will be their four appearance at the Confederations Cup tournament.

New Zealand failed to impress in previous three attempts, picking up just one point from nine games, scoring mere two goals in the process.

Their problems up front seem to have continued as the All Whites struggled to score more than one or two goals per game despite facing weak Oceania sides, while they also suffered 1-0 defeats to Northern Ireland and Belarus in June friendlies.

New Zealand arrived in Russia without captain Winston Reid and clearly without confidence after a poor run of results.

Probable starting line-up (5-3-2): Marinovic – Colvey, Boxall, Durante, Tzimopoulos, Wynne – McGlinchey, Rojas – Thomas – Smelz, Wood.

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