MOSCOW (Reuters) - World Cup hosts Russia will not let a dangerous Uruguay side push them out of their stride in the match that will decide the winners of Group A, midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk said on Saturday.
Russia qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in post-Soviet history with a convincing 3-1 win against Egypt on Tuesday after thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament’s opening match.
Entering the World Cup as the lowest-ranked team, Russia’s success has come as a surprise to fans and outside observers alike.
Their players are now determined to continue with their winning ways when they face Uruguay, who also qualified for the knockout stage with two wins, in Samara on Monday
“Uruguay is a dangerous team, they have good goalscorers,” midfielder Miranchuk, who has yet to come off the bench at the World Cup, said, according to RIA news agency.
“But we won’t be pushed off our game.”
Miranchuk, who said his side were determined to become the first team to score against Uruguay’s solid back line here, is hoping to get a chance to play with qualification for the next stage assured.
“I don’t know what’s more difficult, playing in the match or being on the bench,” the Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder said.
“On the bench you worry, but there is no time for that on the pitch. I’m ready to play. In a team there are 23 players, not 11. I’m waiting for my chance.”
Uruguay, who beat both Egypt and Saudi Arabia 1-0 but have hardly played to their full potential at the World Cup so far, will represent the biggest test yet for the buoyant hosts.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ian Chadband