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New Russian boss Fabio Capello has already made some interesting decisions in his new job.
According to BBC Sport, the former England coach left Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko out of the squad to face Northern Ireland and Israel.
With the dismissing of these familiar names, Alan Dzagoev becomes Russia's key player.
An opening match against Northern Ireland is a godsend to the side that failed so miserably at Euro 2012. Now that Dick Advocaat is gone, Capello has the chance to explore a system that doesn't rely on squad ever-presence.
Dzagoev made three starts at the European Championships and scored three goals. His record for CSKA Moscow hasn't been quite so consistent. Last year, he netted five times in 30 Russian Premier League appearances.
Vitally, Dzagoev has managed to continue his international form into the new club season. He has tallied one goal in five games, indicating there is plenty more to come.
If the 22-year-old can maintain his scoring touch whilst continuing to torment defences, I can't see him staying in Russia much longer than January.
Northern Ireland will need to fight hard to get anything from this game. Capello is notoriously efficient. As Daniele De Rossi pointed out at Euro 2012, the surly Italian has the ability to scare other teams with his legendary reputation, according to Neil McLeman of The Daily Mirror.
Michael O'Neill's Northern Irish side will be delighted with a point from this one. If that's to come, Dzagoev's threat needs to be neutralised.