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Confederations Cup can lift spirit before World Cup, says Russia’s Fedor Smolov

Russia start Confederations Cup with 2-0 win against New Zealand and striker Fedor Smolov senses upbeat mood in the camp

The Confederations Cup got under way in St Petersburg on Saturday evening with Russia managing a convincing 2-0 win against New Zealand in front of a roaring 50,000 crowd.

With a year to go until the World Cup, the average Russian fan is not worried about potential stadium violence or any of the other controversies discussed in the foreign press. Anxiety is reserved for one thing only: whether the Russian team will put in a respectable performance on home soil. The national side have become something of a laughing stock in recent years and the players are well aware they have a lot to do to win back the affections of the nation before the World Cup starts.

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