SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he wants to see "strong-willed, no-compromise" soccer from Russia's team at the World Cup.
The host nation comes into the tournament with no wins from its last five friendlies.
Meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Russian officials in Sochi, Putin says "we all hope that our players will give themselves fully to the game, will play at full strength, will display the strong-willed, no-compromise soccer which fans value and love."
Russia hasn't gotten past the group stage at any tournament since it reached the semifinals of the 2008 European Championship.
Russia opens the World Cup against Saudi Arabia in Group A on June 14 before playing Egypt on June 19 and Uruguay six days later.