Russia captain Igor Denisov and winger Vladimir Bystrov worked with a physio Monday during the national team’s first training session ahead of a crunch World Cup qualifier against Portugal on Friday.
Denisov and Bystrov broke off from the 10 other players at the training session after the warm-up and worked with physio Massimo Neri for the remainder of the 45-minute session.
The midfielders are teammates at Zenit St. Petersburg, where Denisov has been training with the reserve team for two weeks after arguing with management over the wages paid to €80 million signings Hulk and Axel Witsel.
Russia midfielder Denis Glushakov said Monday the Portugal game would be crucial to both countries’ hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014.
“The team’s in good spirits, before this we’ve won two matches and this game will probably be decisive,” the Lokomotiv Moscow player said.
It will be “not easy and not simple” for Russia against Portugal, he added.
Zenit center-back Bruno Alves, the only member of the Portugal squad to play in Russia, said playing against as many as six of his club teammates would be an emotional experience.
“I’ll be playing against my teammates and that’s always a special feeling, and I’ll be doing it in the country whose championship I play in,” he said on the Zenit website.
Alves told R-Sport on Saturday that Portugal would settle for a draw in Moscow on Friday, adding that Russia had a squad of “quality, decent footballers.”
The two sides, both with 100 percent records from their first two matches, face off at Moscow’s vast Luzhniki stadium Friday.