ROME — Italy and Russia will play two friendlies before the 2018 World Cup following a new partnership between the federations.

The Italian football federation (FIGC) says after a meeting in Moscow between its president Carlo Tavecchio and Vitaly Mutko, sports minister and president of the Football Union of Russia, that the matches will be in 2017 and 2018.

Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup.

In five previous meetings with Russia, Italy has won three matches, drawn one, and lost one.