Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has warned his players they must cut out the individual errors that cost the World Cup hosts a chance to end a winless run stretching back to October after they lost 1-0 to Austria in a warm-up match on Wednesday.
The Russians, hoping to reach the knockout stage from a relatively weak-looking Group A, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt, have conceded 10 goals in their last four games and failed to win in six matches.
Cherchesov sees plenty of room for improvement, saying the errors in the Austria defeat were due to tiredness after the team’s intensive pre-World Cup training camp in the Alps.
“These things (individual errors) need to be eliminated,” Cherchesov said. “But mistakes happen if there’s no freshness. We’ll correct them when we are 100 percent ready.”
With Uruguay, led by prolific strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, expected to top the group, the Russians need a winning a start in the tournament’s opening game against the Saudis in Moscow on June 14.
Cherchesov’s team clearly lack quality in the final third of the pitch at the Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck and the former Russia keeper said they get into good attacking positions often enough only to be let down by a poor final pass.
“We need (to improve) the final pass,” the 54-year-old said. “I’m not talking about goals, but about the logical completion of attacks.
“There were enough runs, on the left and on the right, but the quality of the final pass left much to be desired.”
Cherchesov changed the 5-3-1-1 formation he used in March friendly defeats against Brazil and France for a 4-2-3-1, with 38-year-old centre back Sergei Ignashevich returning to the national team after a two-year absence.
There were moments of confusion with Vladimir Granat, Ignashevich’s partner in central defence, making several mistakes, but Cherchesov believes things will get better.
“There were one or two individual mistakes but this pair of central defenders played together for the first time,” he said.