For a man with the hopes of a nation - and the Kremlin - resting on his shoulders, Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov cut a remarkably relaxed figure ahead of his side's World Cup opener.
The tournament hosts take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday with the pressure firmly on the 54-year-old who has to not only satisfy the country's fans and a hugely sceptical media but also provide the watching Vladimir Putin with reasons to be optimistic.
Putin is hoping to use the World Cup as a showcase for modern Russia and dismal failure from his own team is unlikely to go down well within the corridors of power.
With that in mind, Cherchesov could be forgiven for feeling the pressure but instead he was in a jovial mood on Wednesday, laughing and joking with reporters at his pre-match news conference.
He accepted, however, the need for a strong performance, and positive result, against the Saudis on opening night.
He said: "We have been studying our opponents from day one. There are no weak teams in any of the groups. The first game is important as it will set the tone to a certain extent.
"We are trying to iron out any kinks we have."
Cherchesov, whose players relaxed on Wednesday with a game of Trivial Pursuit, said morale was high in the camp and that criticism - Andrei Kanchelskis has described this Russia team as the worst he has ever seen - was part of the job.
"Our mood is very good, we are ready to work. We did a lot of work in Austria and we have reached a good recent level, especially against Turkey [a 1-1 draw in a pre-tournament friendly] when we showed a bit of the game we want to play," he added.
"Any coach has to accept criticism. I don’t read anything and stay focused on my job. We are trying to do what we’re doing – the fact we are getting criticised, that’s the world we live in today.
"Perhaps some don’t criticise enough and some too much. We never touch upon this topic at all. We have to do everything to turn criticism into praise."
Asked if he had a message for the Russian people, Cherchesov smiled and explained the western media wouild struggle to understand if they did not first understand the local culture.
"You would find it hard to find a way through the labyrinth of the Russian soul," he said.
"It takes us a long time to start driving but when we do we go all the way. But no-one ever achieved anything by words, so we have to follow it up with actions."
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|
|Thompson sets NBA record with 10 straight made three-pointers to open game|
|76ers hand Rockets largest loss of season, Harden scores 37 points|
|Tsitsipas overcomes Bautista Agut to continue Aus Open run|
|Barcelona move a ´dream come true´ for Boateng|
|Rams coach McVay on Gurley: I´ve got to get him more opportunities|
|Butler´s sprained wrist not expected to keep him out ´long term´|
|Saints owner Benson will ´aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies´|
|Levante to take Copa case to CAS|
|It can happen – Allegri plays down Ronaldo penalty miss|
|Mavericks´ Doncic becomes second-youngest player to record triple-double|
|Yankees send Sonny Gray to Reds|
|Ashley Cole reunited with Frank Lampard at Derby County|
|Arnold ready to mix things up in 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals|
|Arum: Joshua desperately needs to fight in the United States|
|South Korea v Bahrain: Bento optimistic of continuing unblemished campaign|
|Bolton Wanderers 0 West Brom 2: Baggies bounce up to third after tennis ball protest|
|Confident Moeen ready to shine for England in the Caribbean|
|Juventus 3 Chievo 0: Allegri´s men cruise despite Ronaldo penalty save|
|Boateng completes shock Barcelona switch|
|United Arab Emirates 3 Kyrgyzstan 2 (after extra time): Khalil penalty sets up Socceroos showdown|
|West Indies add Drakes to new-look coaching team|
|Barcelona is a huge opportunity – Boateng confirms shock move is close|
|Donnarumma wishes Higuain luck ahead of expected Chelsea switch|
|Qatar v Iraq: Katanec anticipating ´huge challenge´ in last 16|
|Nuno hit with FA misconduct charge for pitch celebration|
|Furious Carreno Busta and Zverev bow out, Djokovic marches on|
|#NotMartinFromWakefield – Siewert shows viral sensation the door|
|Djokovic feeling the strain after late-night Medvedev battle|
|Henderson sidelined again ahead of Six Nations|
|Australia 0 Uzbekistan 0 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Ryan heroics see holders hobble onwards|
|Halep exit leaves four-way fight to be crowned number one at Australian Open|
|Super Bowl-bound Rams set for London return, Chiefs to face Chargers in Mexico|
|Huddersfield appoint Siewert as Wagner´s replacement|
|Genoa 0 AC Milan 2: Borini and Suso step up with Higuain left out|
|McTominay signs new Manchester United contract|
|Pizzi to stand down after Saudi Arabia elimination|
|Boateng closing in on shock Barcelona switch - reports|
|Catalans to defend Challenge Cup after resolving RFL dispute|
|Djokovic wears down Medvedev to reach last eight|
|Mouratoglou: I knew ´loyal´ Serena would not fire me after US Open turmoil|
|Barcelona B defender Wague accuses Ejea fans of racist abuse|
|I felt like I had been hit by a train - Halep upbeat despite losing Serena battle|