Dec 022017
 
MOSCOW: Russia breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday after avoiding Spain and looking like favourites to make it out of their group in their first home World Cup.
“The ideal group,” the government-run R-Sport news agency shouted in a banner headline on its website after the State Kremlin Palace draw saw them paired with Saudi Arabia and Egypt for next year’s finals.
Russia should face a sterner test in Luis Suarez’s Uruguay — the two-time World Cup winners who also have Paris Saint-Germain’s danger man Edinson Cavani.
But both coaches and pundits alike were in good spirits after avoiding the potential disaster of being drawn in a “Group of Death” with sport-mad President Vladimir Putin watching on. Egypt will be spearheaded by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah while Saudi Arabia will make their first return to the World Cup since 2006.
“I think that this is a perfect — even ideal — group,” former Russia coach and three-time domestic Premier League champion Valery Gazzayev told R-Sport. The Russian Football Union’s honorary president Vyacheslav Koloskov agreed that “we got lucky with the draw”. “We should be able to handle all those teams,” he said.
Russia launch their campaign to win Group A against Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s historic and completely refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in the tournament’s opening match on June 14.

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