Date: September 3, 2014
Venue: Arena Khimki, Russia
Kick off time: 16:00 BST
Russia will square off against Azerbaijan in an international friendly as the two sides look to try out their options ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Azerbaijan were not a part of the WC finals while Russia were there at the WC, exiting at the group stage with a couple of draws against South Korea and Algeria.
This match will be the first time that either team will feature in an international fixture since the end of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and it will be interesting to see which are the players who make it into the starting XI for their countries and if their managers employ any new tactic which might be of interest to their upcoming opponents.
Russia’s world cup may have resulted in a catastrophe as the team exited the competition at the group stage. However, the team only lost to Belgium in their time in Brazil. In the build up to the tournament, Russia were able to win against Morocco and drew against Norway.
In Fabio Capello, Russia have the highest paid manager in world football. The Italian has had varied success throughout his career although he has not had any of late. Although there are those who believe that the former Juventus manager is past it, he will have a point to prove to some of his detractors.
Azerbaijan have for a long time been the punching bag for bigger footballing nations. The team have never done too well to be noticed much and neither do they have any star players playing for Europe’s leading clubs.
The only win of their last five fixtures was a 1-0 win over Philippines who are an equally poor team.
Russia: Alan Dzagoev
Dzagoev has been on the radar of some of the top clubs in Europe for nearly half a decade now. Although he showed great skills and ability in Euro 2012, Dzagoev has not been able to kick on and take his game to another level. The playmaker will be out to prove a point on Wednesday.
Azerbaijan: Rauf Aliyev
The striker is their best bet as far as goalscoring options are concerned. Although he is unlikely to be heavily involved in this upcoming match, Aliyev gives Azerbaijan some hope up top.
Russia’s poor showing in the World Cup notwithstanding, they have the firepower to crush Azerbaijan in this one and I like the look of odds of 1.9 (Ladbrokes) for more than 2.5 goals to be scored.