The Guardian’s World Cup 2014 Expert’s Network consists of media organizations from the 32 competing nations that have been chosen for their top status in their respective countries. Russian journalists Anton Matveev and Dmitry Girin have both been very frank about their national team’s chances, displaying a comfortable knowledge of players such as Yuri Zhirkov, who has been labeled a “sleeping giant” by Matveev, and the Italian coach, Fabio Capelli, who seeks out “all-purpose players” and will be expecting his team to deliver in three areas: discipline, speed and team movement. However, Girin reminded readers in late May that Russia will be playing in “another continent, in a different time zone, in a very hot climate”. Belgium is Russia’s biggest threat in Group H and, while Bloomberg has divided the two teams by 6 percent in terms of their overall chances of victory, they were ranked within the top 20 of the Elo list on June 2 and Goldman Sachs believes they will be part of the knockout 16. As long as all of Russia’s giants awake, the world’s largest country may achieve more than you expect.
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