Euro 2012 Preview: Russia

Euro 2012 Preview: Russia

Dick Advocaat
Runners Up 1988
Qualifying Group B Winners

3 (Apr 1996)
40 (Dec 1998)

20/1 (bet365)

8th June – Czech Republic (1945 BST, Wroclaw, ITV)
12th June – Poland (1945 BST, Warsaw, ITV)
16th June – Greece (1945 BST, Warsaw, BBC)

The surprise package of the last tournament. The Russians impressed all before them with Guus Hiddink using Andriy Arshavin to the best effect possible in a scintillating run to the last four.

Unfortunately they followed that up with failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa, a play-off defeat to Slovenia scuppering hopes that this could be Russia’s first return to international footballing prominence since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Hiddink left and was replaced by Dick Advocaat who got Russia to Euro 2012 in a solid if unspectacular fashion losing only once to Slovakia.The main strength of the Russian side is that they don’t concede many and they boast quality between the sticks in CSKA man Igor Akinfeev.

The tight defence also may be down to the understanding Akinfeev has with his back four, Alexei Berezutskiy along with the veteran Sergei Ignashevich also representing CSKA Moscow.

In a 4-1-2-2-1 formation Zenit midfielder Igor Denisov may play the holding role with Roman Shyrakov and Konstantin Zyryanov playing centrally.

Upfront Advocaat has taken a liking to using a target man with Andrey Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev playing behind him, that target man has rotated with Roman Pavlyuchenko, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Aleksandr Kerzhakov all having turns up front.


Still Arsenal’s record signing Arshavin ended the 11/12 season on loan at his first club Zenit St. Petersburg.

Blessed with quality,skill,an eye for a pass and a cool finishing ability and also one of the few Russians to make a major impact outside his home nation, Arshavin made an explosive start to life in England scoring all 4 goals in a pulsating 4-4 draw at Anfield.

His Arsenal career however has hit the rocks with his tendency to drift out of games and inability to impact himself leading to a loan move to keep his hopes of making Euro 2012 alive.
On his day Arshavin is world class and can bring a game alive and pulsate audiences.
The question and perhaps key to hopes is which Arshavin will turn up for Russia – The explosive exciting Arshavin or the sullen figure whose Arsenal career is still in doubt?

Impressive if unspectacular in qualifying, Advocaat has done well to guide an ageing group of players to the finals. However a lack of goals does threaten to undermine Russia, take away the 8 against Andorra and the Russians managed just 9 goals in the remaining 8 games.This Russia side is a very different beast to the one seen in 2008, fast, fluid football has been replaced by an organised, efficient side which keeps possession but lacks a cutting edge. It has on one or two occasions cut loose, a 3-2 win in Ireland perhaps the greatest reminder of 2008.This Russian side is also short of strength and tends to tire later in games, they may also be vulnerable to set-pieces as one of the shortest sides in Europe. Advocaat is also reluctant to make changes and this approach may indicate he lacks a Plan B.With the relatively close proximity to Russia, they should get more backing than they usually do at major tournaments and perhaps that could play a part.
Tough one to call this, Russia are a decent side that have a lot of vulnerabilities but in the weakest group of the four they have a good chance of advancing to the last eight, it’d be a major surprise if they got any further though

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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