CURITIBA, Russia (AP) — Russia captain Vasily Berezutskiy says there’s no doubt — his team will score on Thursday in its must-win match against Algeria at the World Cup.
That’s brave talk from a man whose team has only scored one goal so far in Group H, in an opening draw with South Korea.
“We have studied new schemes, new models and I think tomorrow we will score, we’re bound to score tomorrow,” Berezutskiy told a news conference on Wednesday.
One goal may not be enough if Algeria continues to attack as it did in a 4-2 victory over South Korea. Heading into the final game of the group, Belgium has already qualified and Algeria lies second with three points, knowing a draw would probably be enough to reach the second round for the first time. Russia and South Korea have one point each.
Coach Fabio Capello insisted that his team’s paltry goal return at the World Cup wasn’t for lack of trying, particularly in its 1-0 loss to Belgium. Capello’s team pressured Belgium for long stretches at the Maracana, but lacked quality finishing.
Capello has been criticized for being overly defensive in the game against Belgium — and only bringing on attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev with minutes left to play and striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov in the 90th minute.
“I made a change to win the match,” he said.
Whatever happens, Capello thinks the tournament has been hugely valuable for a team that hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002 and is gearing up to host the next edition in 2018.
“The fact that we are here is a positive thing,” said Capello, who has signed a contract extension to see him through the next four years. “We have taken a step forward.”