Stanislav Cherchesov defended Russia’s surprising running statistics ahead of a showdown with Uruguay to decide who wins Group A.
The host nation, the lowest-ranked in the finals coming into the tournament, have surprised those watching both abroad and at home with their performances, which have guaranteed them a place in the knockout stages.
Added to that, Russia have covered more ground in the opening two rounds of the tournament than anyone else, something which brought questions in coach Cherchesov’s press conference over the figures.
“If nobody has noticed anything but the runs and sprints we’ll have to add something on,” Cherchesov said.
“That’s what we’re going to do.”
“There is some inner motivation.”
“The greatest motivation is we’re playing at home and the public supports us.”
Uruguay have won their first two games of a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1954 and stand one win away from topping the group.
Russia, however, boast a far superior goal difference, having thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 and made light work of Egypt in a 3-1 win, meaning only victory will see Uruguay finish above the hosts and avoid the winners of Group B in the process.
“We are aware that there is pressure there and we also believe that in our prior performances, we haven’t fully lived up to our potential,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters on the eve of their final Group A fixture.
“But we face that with calmness.”
“We have had these situations before. In the Copa America in 2011, it was a similar situation, there were matches where we were far from brilliant.”
“We knew in the first knockout rounds you could not fail there and we had to face Argentina, but we won in the end.”
Uruguay defender Jose Maria Gimenez has been ruled out because of a right thigh injury.
Gimenez scored in Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Egypt to start the tournament.
La Celeste also defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 to secure a spot in the knockout round heading into Monday’s match against hosts Russia.
The 23-year-old centre-back has been key to the team’s two shutouts.
Tabarez would not reveal on Sunday who would replace the Atletico Madrid defender.
“We will not think about resting players,” said Tabarez.
“We want to play seven matches and we are preparing for that and we know after every match how much regeneration is necessary.”
Russia have won six of their eight meetings against Uruguay (D1 L1; includes games as the Soviet Union).
However, both nations have a win apiece at World Cup finals.
Uruguay’s only previous win against Russia came in World Cup 1970 thanks to a 117th-minute strike by Victor Esparrago.
Russia have lost each of their last four World Cup meetings with South American sides, scoring just once – including their 1970 World Cup loss to Uruguay.
Uruguay have won their last two World Cup matches against European sides (England and Italy), having failed to win any of their previous 15 against them (W0 D6 L9).
Russia have scored more goals in this World Cup (8) than they had in their previous two World Cup tournaments combined (6, across 2002 and 2014).
Russia have a positive goal difference of +7 in their opening two World Cup matches in the 2018 tournament.
All three of the previous host nations to have a +5 goal difference or more in their opening two games of that World Cup have gone on to win the tournament: France (+7) in 1998, Italy (+6) in 1934 and Uruguay (+5) in 1930.
Each of the last three European host nations of a World Cup prior to 2018 have won all three of their group stage games (Germany 2006, France 1998, Italy 1990).