After two ties and one loss, the Russian national team failed to make it out of its group and into the competition playoffs. Perhaps that's for the best — as things stand, if Russia had won the do-or-die match against Algeria on Thursday, it would have faced the daunting German team in the elimination rounds. However, that's not how the Russian Twitter-sphere saw things: one part upset, once part resigned, and one part relieved that the nightmare of cheering for a team this lackluster was over.
TV personality Vladimir Solovyov summed up the sentiment:
Позорище. Просто позорище. Могли и не приезжать на чемпионат. Деньги бы федерации сэкономили.
— Vladimir Soloviev (@VRSoloviev) June 26, 2014
Shameful. Simply shameful. We might as well not have gone to the Cup. Would have saved the [Russian soccer] federation money.
Some blamed the tie-making goal that sent Russia home on the Algerian fans, some of whom tried to blind the Russian goalie with a laser pointer during a critical moment (the goalie, Akinfeev, later said that this did not make a difference in his miss).
Of course, political jokes were out in full force — predictably many of them on the topic of annexation of Crimea and Ukraine (Ukrainians have cheered Russian losses at the cup).
Крым вернули, вернем домой и сборную России
— Никотинка с Бровями (@Yoghikitt) June 26, 2014
We got Crimea back, so we'll bring home the Russian national team as well.
Liberal journalist Vladimir Varfolomeev wrote:
Алжиру сильно повезло, конечно, что он не граничит с РФ.
— Владимир Варфоломеев (@Varfolomeev) June 26, 2014
Algiers is extremely lucky that it doesn't border the Russian Federation.
The virtual troll personality Lev Sharansky tweeted:
Сейчас в Северной Африке и на Украине праздник. В Африке, короче, праздник.
— Lev Sharansky (@LevSharansky) June 26, 2014
Right now North Africa and Ukraine are celebrating. In short, Africa is celebrating.
Fans were concerned about performance at the next World Cup, which is due to take place in Russia:
в рамках подготовки к Чемпионату мира 2018 года сборная России провела три товарищеских матча в Бразилии
— Смирнов (@sssmirnov) June 26, 2014
As a way to prepare for the 2018 World Cup the Russian team played three friendly matches in Brazil
Ходят слухи, что сборная России будет первой командой, которая не сможет попасть на домашний чемпионат мира.
— Владимир Вербицкий (@VerbitskyVV) June 26, 2014
There are rumors that the Russian team will be the first host team that won't make it to its own World Cup.
Few people, like commentator Georgy Cherdantsev suggested a potentially controversial solution that could perhaps improve the team by then — getting rid of limits on foreign players in Russian clubs, to encourage competition among native players:
Только полная отмена лимита на легионеров! Пусть наши на тренировках доказывают, что они сильнее иностранцев.
— Георгий Черданцев (@cherdantsev) June 27, 2014
Only a complete abolishing of the limit on “hired guns”! Let our boys show at training that they are stronger than the foreigners.
The way the Russian team plays now, such a ban could lead to an even lower proportion of home-grown players in the Russian professional soccer leagues.