The Russians did not qualify for South Africa four years ago, after losing a play-off to Slovenia, but the Italian was there as England’s head coach.
Having arrived full of hope, England and Capello suffered a tournament to forget, the 67-year-old Italian guiding his team to just one victory before bowing out after losing 4-1 to Germany in the quarter-finals, their heaviest ever defeat in the finals.
Capello was criticised by the English media not only for the results, but also for the strict discipline he installed at the team’s training camp in Rustenberg.
The former Italian international is a lover of fine art and in particular Wassily Kandinsky so it was fitting that his next job was to be in the in the land of the painter’s birth, Russia.
In his own way, Capello has stamped his authority on the team and, at the same time, been well received by the players, fans and media.
He is thoroughly studious and this has certainly paid dividends with the Russian team. A once-leaky defence has become almost watertight in the last 18 months as Russia conceded only five goals in qualifying.
At the same time, the team has not lost the attacking flair that was evident under Dutchman Guus Hiddink. They scored 20 goals en route to Brazil.
Their 4-0 victory at the start of the campaign in Tel Aviv, against an admittedly below-standard Israel side, was perhaps their best performance since a 3-1 victory against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.
“I am an optimist. I always try to think positively and always want more. I always want to reach a new level as much as it is possible and my players should also think in this way,” said Capello.
Capello had many critics during his time in England, but that has not been repeated in Russia.
The former AC Milan and Real Madrid boss spends considerable time in the country and has been to ice hockey games in his free time.
He is well regarded and signed a new contract to remain at the helm of the national side until after the 2018 World Cup, which Russia will host.
He inherited an ageing but talented squad from his predecessor, Dutchman Dick Advocaat, when he took over in August 2012 and soon made changes.
Out went Andrey Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko, whose best years were behind them, and in came players hungry for success.
Capello cast his net far and wide.
Although Zenit St. Petersburg, and the three Moscow-based teams Lokomotiv, CSKA and Dynamo will provide the majority of the players, Capello has shown he is not afraid to look elsewhere.
Alexey Kozlov, who played for unfashionable Kuban Krasnodar when he was first called-up, is a good example.
Russia have no world-class players in their squad, but Capello has done well to build a team in which each individual knows his role.
The development of Alexander Samedov and Denis Glushakov, who are both in their late twenties, is another case in point. They have blossomed under Capello and are now regulars in the team for the first time.
In Brazil, the minimum requirement is for Russia to qualify from the group stages for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
This is certainly achievable in a pool that also contains Belgium, Algeria and South Korea.
“We always set our sights as high as possible,” said Capello. “At the World Cup, we want to try and go as far as we can, but of course our first goal is to get out of the group.
“If we do not do this then all our aims won’t mean anything. Getting out of the group is the most important step for us.”
(Editing by Tim Collings and Mike Collett)