Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov is urging his players not to underestimate the Malta national team as Russia look to open their World Cup qualifying campaign on a winning note at the National Stadium on Wednesday.
Cherchesov said that he is taking the match against Malta very seriously, particularly after seeing Devis Mangia’s men go on an impressive unbeaten run of seven matches.
“Obviously we have taken note of everything and took into the consideration their defensive game,” Cherchesov said.
“Today we will have a chance to compare theory with the practice, and also analyse the attacks. We’ll have a chance to analyse everything.
“Considering that Malta was successful in the UEFA Nations League, going on a positive run of seven games in a row, shows why must pay a lot of attention when preparing for this game.
“Malta also have a very good coach, but we don’t pay attention to famous names, we try to look at the approach of the team. Malta’s performance has improved over the years.”
Cherchesov dismissed fears on the condition of Alexander Golovin, Fyodor Kudryashov, Aleksey Miranchuk and Yuri Zhirkov who joined the Russian squad later than their team-mates.
“They’re all fit and ready to play – Golovin, Kudryashov, Miranchuk, Zhirov, they have different physical and emotional situations because of the duration of their flights,” Cherchesov said.
“But we managed to have a first practice thanks to the Federation who did their best to accommodate everyone and worked perfectly with the clubs to get the squad together.”
Prolific striker Artem Dzyuba equally heaped praise on the improvement shown by the Malta national team and branded them as a ‘worthy opponent’.
“In general, all teams have improved their technical performance,” the Zenit St Petersburg striker said.
“Malta are a strong team, playing with five defenders, a team that does its best to control the ball, come out from the defence with a series of passes and strike back when it has an opportunity, so yes I think we are facing a worthy opponent.
“But we know how to press the ball and let’s hope that tomorrow we will manage to achieve a good result.
“We don’t think it will be a straightforward and easy game for us though.”