Russia’s remarkable start to the World Cup has seen them secure their place in the last-16 against all expectations, with Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Egypt giving them two wins from two and a likely encounter on the horizon with either Spain or Portugal.
The 5-0 and 3-1 wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt respectively have thrown up a number of interestingly stats, such as highest goalscorers of the tournament, an unlikely 100 per cent record and joint-top scorer in Denis Cheryshev.
Then there’s also the incredible stat that they are collectively running further per game than any other nation at the World Cup…by a country mile.
In their opening match against Saudi Arabia, the hosts ran a tournament-best 118km in the 90 minutes, with Tuesday night’s encounter coming in at a slightly-lower 115km.
In comparison, the next best distance came from Egypt in their opening Group A game with Uruguay that ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat, who clocked up 112km – six kilometres fewer than Russia’s impressive feat.
This rich run of form has certainly taken some by surprise given that Russia are the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, having fallen to 70th in Fifa’s world rankings – though this is largely explained by their run of 18 friendlies that sandwich last year’s Confederations Cup due to their automatic qualification for the World Cup.
Russia also have three players inside the top 10 for distance covered, with midfielder Aleksandr Golovin leading the way over the course of the first round of group games with an individual 12.7km covered. To put that into comparison with one of the fittest players at the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo managed 8.72km in the frantic 3-3 draw with Spain, where Portugal clocked up a total team distance of 102.5km.
One very obvious explanation is the home-crowd factor, given that there are strong links behind a partisan crowd and the external motivation that is triggered from the increase in support that the World Cup hosts are receiving over the course of their matches.
When all 32 teams are taken into account, the average is worked out to105km per game with three countries hitting that mark in the form of Saudi Arabia, Iceland and England.
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