Stamford Bridge geared up for Monday evening’s historic international fixture when Russia and Brazil took turns to train on the pitch on Sunday.
The match will be the first international at the stadium not to feature England and the first of any kind since 1946. For Russia it is a very welcome fixture following the postponement of their World Cup qualifier in Northern Ireland.
Snow and surface water on the pitch in Belfast put paid to that game being held on Friday or Saturday, so Russia flew to London and trained at Chelsea’s training ground at Cobham on Saturday evening before their Sunday lunchtime session at the Bridge. Although the temperature in London is unusually cold for late March, the pitch is good.
Yury Zhirkov (pictured below), who made 49 appearances for Chelsea between 2009 and 2011, was one of the players involved. The Russian captain Igor Denisov is ruled out with injury so his fellow Zenit St Petersburg midfield Roman Shirokov will wear the armband.
Russia manager Fabio Capello said his side is in good shape to take on the Brazilians.
‘They trained well yesterday and today, and the team is in a good moment of form. They are not tired and tomorrow will be at 100 per cent,’ he reported.
‘It is a friendly game but it will be really important for me to note our value and also the value of some different players who have not played games at the top, top level. I will play some young players and it is a good test for us to improve.’
Russia are top of their World Cup qualifying group with four wins out of four. Brazil, as host nation in 2014, have no need to play such games so for them there was another friendly on Thursday – a 2-2 draw against Italy in which Oscar found the net.
‘It was a really interesting game and Brazil suffered sometimes from Italy’s counter-attacks,’ noted Capello.
‘But tomorrow I read they will play Thiago Silva who is one of the fastest defenders in the world so they probably will not have the same problems.
‘When Brazil play counter-attack and have space they have four really fast forwards who are good technically. We need to be compact because if they find space it will be difficult to stop their counter-attacks.’
The former England coach also had some words about another Russian team that is soon to visit Stamford Bridge – Rubin Kazan who are Chelsea’s next opponents in the Europa League.
‘They are a good team, they are compact, and Chelsea need to be careful because they have good spirit, good organisation and also good players.’
David Luiz and Oscar took part in Brazil’s session that followed on from Russia. Luiz Felipe Scolari was in charge on his return to Stamford Bridge but Ramires was not involved. The midfielder missed the Italy game due to injury and a decision on his availability to face Russia will be made on the day of the game.
– Tickets for the Brazil v Russia match are on sale to personal callers at the box office at Stamford Bridge, only until 12 noon on Monday.