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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia: Brazil Can Be Beaten

STANFORD, California -- Russian coach Pavel Sadyrin has said that Brazil can be beaten despite its "superpower" status at the World Cup. "We can't beat Brazil in technique, but it can be beaten through better teamwork," Sadyrin said Thursday of the Russia-Brazil match Monday at Stanford stadium. "Brazil is a soccer superpower. But it is not unbeatable." Brazil is one of the leading favorites to win the World Cup, but first it has to do well against always tough Russia in their opening match. The other teams in their Group B are Sweden and Cameroon. "This is the most difficult group in the tournament," Sadyrin said. "But I think we can be at least second in the group," which would give Russia a place in the second round. "In contrast to Brazil, we are not immediately aiming for the World Cup title," Sadyrin said. "Our goals are one at a time. For now it is the second round." This is Russia's first appearance at the World Cup, although Russian players dominated the old Soviet team for years. And it appeared doomed by a bitter dispute between several veteran players and Sadyrin in December. Four key players refused to play for Russia at the World Cup, demanding higher pay and the ouster of Sadyrin for alleged incompetence. "Of the four, I only miss Andrei Kanchelskis," Sadyrin said, referring to Manchester United's skillful midfielder. "For the others, I don't care." World-class forwards Sergei Kiryakov, Igor Kolyvanov and Igor Shalimov were also among a group of players who had refused to play unless Sadyrin were removed. Sadyrin stayed. And while some Russian players changed their minds and returned, that quartet stood firm.The absences undoubtedly will cripple a team that had high expectations prior to the internal problems. Sadyrin had said earlier, "If we win the World Cup, it will be a miracle on the scale of flying saucers. But we can" still be "among the strongest teams." Asked about Brazil's high-scoring forwards Romario and Bebeto, Sadyrin said: "They don't have only Romario and Bebeto. They have 11 Romarios and Bebetos." The last time the Russians, then in the Soviet team, played Brazil at a World Cup was in 1982 in Spain, also in their opening match. Brazil defeated the Russians 2-1.