After topping their qualification group to claim a spot in this summer’s showcase, Russia will have to safely navigate a group including the intimidating Belgium to progress in Brazil.
Given Russia's recent performances in major competitions, their urgent need for improvement on the big stage couldn’t be greater.
Group-stage exits at their last two World Cups in 1994 and 2002 were followed by a similar slump at Euro 2012, and such anticlimaxes must be avoided this time around.
There has been visible improvement under Fabio Capello, and much will hinge on the success of their midfield three and the sharpness of those ahead of them.
Russia are a disciplined unit under the ex-England boss, and they will need a level-headed sense of unity from back to front if they’re to replicate their run to the semi-finals at Euro 2008.