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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia's Makeshift Squad

Russia, still riven by a mutiny by leading players, is likely to field another experimental team against the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup warm-up in Dublin on Wednesday.


Trainer Pavel Sadyrin has few problems in attack, especially since the rebel striker Sergei Yuran of Benfica has decided to make himself available again, but quickly needs to develop a decent combination of midfield and defense.


After the Ireland game, the Russians have only two more warm-up matches to finalize the team before they leave for the World Cup finals in the United States, where they are likely to have a turbulent time against more settled sides like Sweden and Brazil.


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The threat of relegation to the second division for the first time since the Spanish civil war hangs menacingly over Atletico Madrid after this weekend's beating at the hands of Real Zaragoza.


Atletico, traditionally one of the most powerful football clubs in Spain with eight titles, eight cup wins and one European success comprising their 17 major honors, has rarely been out of the top four in the past 10 years.


But Sunday, Atletico slumped 4-0 at home to Zaragoza, a defeat that leaves them in 17th place just five points clear of bottom placed Osasuna but only one ahead of both Lerida and Real Valladolid.


"The second division is closing in on us," said Jesus Gil, the club's president. "The players are extremely nervous. They can't climb out of the hole and time is running out."


Atletico has not been in the second division since the early 1930s and have spent 58 of their 62 seasons as a league club in the top division. The team has just nine games left to save that proud record.