According to public opinion polls conducted by Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), almost 20% of the Russian population think the national team will be knocked out on the group stage. The other 20% stay slightly more optimistic, as they expect Team Russia to make it to 1/8.
The poll was conducted over phone on May 31 this year, with 2000 respondents aged over 18 taking part.
These numbers seems to display a fairly positive picture when compared to the moods of football-savvy community. The poll conducted by Championat.com, one of the largest and most viewed Sports Online portals on the Russian Internet, has shown that almost 50% of the website audience believe that the host team will fail on group stage. The knockout in 1/8 seems feasible for 35%.
Paired with public disbelief, the pressure from the media seems to be affecting the team worse then ever. The other day Artyom Dzyuba, the national team’s striker, came up with this emotional speech (quoted by Sport-Express):
There’s something I would like to say. I look at everything that’s been happening around. We’re surrounded by negativity. First of all, I would like to ask you to support us. The tournament has not started yet, but you are already behaving aggressively with us. Let’s finish the tournament, and then you can draw your conclusions. And then you will decide who, how and what. And now I ask the whole country to unite, because it is a festival, a football festival.
Millions will be cheering on us. And we’ve been plowing here for almost a month not to lose and fly out of the tournament. Like all other 32 teams, we dream of winning the tournament. But everything is getting solved gradually. Now our task is to make it out of the group and everyone needs support. We need to rally around the team. I am asking you to show a little respect for us. And we will respect you. Because we are one! And we do one thing! And if we stay parted, nothing will come out of it.
We are all preparing for the tournament, for us this is the most important event in life, and you seem to think that this is not the cvase! We need the support of the whole country. And we, for our part, will fight and put everything on the altar of victory!
However powerful these words may seem, frankly, there has been little intrigue around the fact that the majority of Russian fans have no delusions regarding the current national team’s potential. We’re just here waiting to host the biggest football festival on Earth – that’s what people are excited about. After all, there will be plenty of good games to watch – even having the national team knocked out all too soon.
Going back to the polls by VTsIOM, I have compressed some numbers in the infographics below. Enjoy!