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World Cup home advantage: How the hosts have fared and why there is hope for Russia
Last Updated: 14/06/18 11:19am
We look at how every host nation has fared at World Cups - and why history suggests Russia could surprise this summer...
If the World Cup's opening ceremony comes close to matching the spectacular scale of the show Sochi put on for the 2014 Winter Olympics then the pressure will be on Russia's football team to respond to that fantastic fanfare with a performance to match.
Their first fixture against Saudi Arabia, taking place shortly after the curtain-raising display at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, may prove to be something of a come down, but Russia will know a good run on home soil is essential, given the focus the country will be under over the next month.
Their supporters will certainly be hoping for a better showing than in recent tournaments. Russia have not progressed from a World Cup group stage since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, falling at the first hurdle in 1994, 2002 and 2014.
Their poor showing at Euro 2016, when they finished bottom of their pool, hardly suggests a squad brimming with the talent required to buck that trend. Neither does their FIFA world ranking of 70.
But home advantage could play a vital role, as they look to see off Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Egypt to reach the knockouts. History suggests that the tournament hosts consistently outperform expectations.
There have been 16 host nations across 20 previous World Cups, including the dual hosts of Japan and South Korea in 2002.
Six times the host nation has won the tournament. Eight times they have made the final. Thirteen times the hosts have at least made the semi-finals.
Host nation performances
|Stage reached as host nation||Number of teams|
That is some host-nation bounce, especially when you consider that, as well as the six nations to have won on home soil, six more teams have achieved their best-ever World Cup result as hosts.
Just four teams have had a better World Cup performance away from home than they have managed on their own turf.
Five-time winners Brazil have finished second (1950) and fourth (2014) on the two occasions they have hosted the tournament.
Spain, champions in 2010, only made it to round two in 1982, while USA's run to the last-16 in 1994 was bettered by a quarter-final appearance in 2002.
And 2010 hosts South Africa are the only home nation not to make it out of the group phase.
Best performance from 16 World Cup hosts
|Best performance||Number of teams|
|As World Cup hosts||12|
|Away from home||3|
|Same stage home and away||1|
Few will expect Russia to join England and France in being teams to have won their only World Cup on home soil. And the odds are against them even matching Chile and South Korea, who secured their only top-four finishes at home.
But, if Russia can get off to a fast start against Saudi Arabia, there will be hope their home support can carry them into the excitement of the knockout rounds.
Host nation performances
|South Africa||2010||Group stage|
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