Russia vs. Slovakia: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2013, file photo, Russia's national soccer head coach Fabio Capello reacts during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and South Korea, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

Russia take the next step in their path toward this summer's World Cup with a tune-up fixture against Slovakia this Monday, where they'll meet their European rivals at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia.

Fabio Capello's side face a tricky task in emerging from a Group H which, while not containing any stars of worldly reputation, per se, boasts a high median in talent among Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. Russia sit as favourites to clinch second spot behind Marc Wilmots' talented group of Belgians.

Monday's encounter will serve as an indicator of just how the Russians are coming along in their preparations for the biggest football event of the year, not to mention give Capello some idea of which players he would be wisest to utilise in Brazil.


Date: Monday, May 26

Time: 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET

Live Stream: Setanta Sports Plus (U.K./AUS/Asia, subscription required), Premier Player (IRE/U.K., subscription required)

TV Info: Setanta Sports 1 (U.K.), Premier Sports U.K. (U.K.)


Players To Watch

Russia: Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Having scored 15 goals in just 11 Russia Premier League starts for his club this season, per Squawka, Aleksandr Kerzhakov remains the most likely figure to lead Capello's attack this summer.

The Zenit St. Petersburg attacker was being tipped for similar success at Euro 2012, but he failed to find the back of the net in Poland as it was instead Alan Dzagoev who shone brightest in front of goal.

Infostrada Sports indicates what a veteran of the Russian line-up the striker has proven to be:

Kerzhakov has proven himself to be something of a hit-and-miss forward, going from prolific highs in his domestic game to absent performances when starring on the international stage.

Monday's visit of Slovakia is a no-pressure environment for the 31-year-old to find a scoring groove ahead of a tournament that will rely a lot on his input.


Slovakia: Marek Hamsik

NAPLES, ITALY - MAY 06:  Marek Hamsik and Aurelio De Laurentis President of Napoli with Tim Cup before the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Cagliari Calcio at Stadio San Paolo on May 6, 2014 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

And just as Kerzhakov can sometimes go missing in his endeavours, Slovakia's Marek Hamsik is a similar talent with a heavy burden upon whom his national team rely.

However, Sky Sports' Pete Graves nevertheless insists that the Napoli playmaker remains a player of immense talent:

If this Russian defence is to be unlocked in Kazan, Hamsik will be the man holding the keys to the kingdom as far as the visiting outfit is concerned, and a great deal of how much opportunity they have on goal counts on his influence.


Key Battle

Roman Shirokov vs. Tomas Hubocan

Russia captain Roman Shirokov has for years been a staple of the national setup, and his presence across the attacking midfield line gives Capello a versatile and malleable asset to work with.

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 09:  Roman Shirokov (L) and Tomas Hubocan of FC Zenit compete for the ball during an open training session at Udelny Park training centre on May 9, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Russia. FC Zenit St. Petersburg are preparing for the
Epsilon/Getty Images

However, it's on the right flank and in an inside forward capacity that the 32-year-old has been used most frequently with the national team, which is likely to put him in direct contact with Slovakia's left-sided Tomas Hubocan.

Although currently on loan at Krasnodar, Shirokov has called Hubocan his Zenit teammate for going on six years now, and the pair will be extremely familiar with what it is that one another brings to the fixture.

That being said, it makes for an intriguing battle as Shirokov will seek to assert his usual passing brilliance, the Slovakian left-back and temporary enemy of his seeking to ensure those testing through balls are limited in number.