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World Cup 2018: Russia win first two games, but are they good or lucky?


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Updated  20/06/18  
Russia 3-1 Egypt
Russia were expected to be one of the worst sides ever to host the World Cup - they've proven a few people wrong.
Coming into the tournament as the lowest-ranked nation and in dismal form, they were the "butt of jokes" and "seemed so hopeless and hapless", according to 5 live's Pat Nevin.
But two games in - a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia and a 3-1 victory over Egypt - they have had the best start of any host side in World Cup history.
"It is not an accident that we have two wins under our belt, we have a group of solidarity," said coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
So - good, lucky or both?
Russia came into the World Cup on the back of seven friendlies without a win, a run dating back to October, and ranked 70th in the world
Confidence was so low that a sports writer with Gazeta.ru said only "a miracle" could save Russia from crashing out at the group stage.
They even had to call 38-year-old centre-back Sergei Ignashevich out of international retirement following several injuries to their back line.
But this is what they have gone on to achieve in just two games:
Russia have had the best start of any World Cup hosts in history. Their eight goals in two games matches Italy in 1934 - but the Azzurri conceded twice.
Stanislav Cherchesov's side have scored as many goals in 180 minutes as Spain did on their way to winning the 2010 tournament.
They are practically guaranteed a place in the last 16, barring a series of unlikely high-scoring results, which would be the first time they have reached the knockout stages since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Their eight goals beats their combined six in the 2002 and 2014 campaigns.


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