UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Russia

Population 143 million Area 17,075,400km2 Capital Moscow Currency Ruble Official Language Russian

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Российский Футбольный Союз Official Site http://www.rfs.ru Year of formation 1912 Euro Ranking 9 World Ranking 13 National Stadium Luzhniki Stadium and Lokomotiv Stadium, Moscow & Petrovsky Stadium, St Petersburg Well-known club sides Zenit St Petersburg, CSKA Moscow Leading goalscorer Vladimir Beschastnykh (26), Roman Pavlyuchenko (20) Most capped player Viktor Onopko (109), Valeri Karpin (72) European Championship finals attended as Russia 1996, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Semi-Finals 2008 Playing Record in European Championship P63 W37 D12 L14 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 20/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

After a stuttering start to qualifying, sluggishly bettering Andorra 2-0 and then losing 1-0 to Slovakia in Moscow, Dick Advocaat’s men steadily improved and sealed passage to Poland & Ukraine as group winners. They exacted revenge over Slovakia in Zlina, with 1-0 win that not only guaranteed them top spot if they gained a point more against Andorra, but also condemned Slovakia to third place.

While Andrey Arshavin’s form at Arsenal could be generously described as erratic, his playmaking performances for his country have been marginally better and it will be through him, in his more central role, that the Russian play will be directed. As well as their captain’s contributions, Roman Pavlyuchenko will powerfully lead the line, Yuri Zhirkov will penetrate the left side and 21-year-old midfielder Alan Dzagoev, named Best Young Player in the Russian League in 2008-09, will dictate the game from the deep.

Aside from a hard-fought semi-final exit to eventual winners Spain for years ago, Russia have disappointed in recent decades. As part of the Soviet Union, they powered their way to the inaugural trophy in 1960 and were runners-up in 1964, 1972 and 1988. Making the latter stages here depends on the influence of Arshavin and who they get in the quarter-finals after negotiating undoubtedly the weakest group in this year’s tournament.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group B – Andorra 0-2 Russia
07/09/2010 – Group B – Russia 0-1 Slovakia
08/10/2010 – Group B – Republic of Ireland 2-3 Russia
12/10/2010 – Group B – Macedonia 0-1 Russia
26/03/2011 – Group B – Armenia 0-0 Russia
04/06/2011 – Group B – Russia 3-1 Armenia
02/09/2011 – Group B – Russia 1-0 Macedonia
06/09/2011 – Group B – Russia 0-0 Republic of Ireland
07/10/2011 – Group B – Slovakia 0-1 Russia
11/10/2011 – Group B – Russia 6-0 Andorra

HOME AND AWAY KITS

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP A

Friday, 08/06 – Russia v Czech Republic (Wroclaw, 19:45)
Tuesday, 12/06 – Poland v Russia (Warsaw, 19:45)
Saturday, 16/06 – Greece v Russia (Warsaw, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (PFC CSKA Moskva), Vyacheslav Malafeev (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Anton Shunin (FC Dinamo Moskva).

Defenders: Aleksandr Anyukov (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Aleksei Berezutski (PFC CSKA Moskva), Sergei Ignashevich (PFC CSKA Moskva), Vladimir Granat (FC Dinamo Moskva), Yuri Zhirkov (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Dmitri Kombarov (FC Spartak Moskva), Roman Sharonov (FC Rubin Kazan), Kirill Nababkin (PFC CSKA Moskva).

Midfielders: Igor Denisov (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Konstantin Zyryanov (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Denis Glushakov (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Igor Semshov (FC Dinamo Moskva), Marat Izmailov (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Alan Dzagoev (PFC CSKA Moskva).

Forwards: Andrey Arshavin (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Aleksandr Kerzhakov (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Aleksandr Kokorin (FC Dinamo Moskva), Roman Pavlyuchenko (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham FC).

THE CAPTAIN – ANDREY ARSHAVIN

Won almost evert possible with Zenit St Petersburg (Russian Premier League, Russian Premier League Cup, Russian Super Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup) before moving to Arsenal in 2009. Enjoyed an auspicious start, scoring more than half of his appearances and providing nine assists, but this form has dipped badly and he had returned to Zenit on loan for the second half of last season.

THE KEEPER – IGOR AKINFEEV

One of Europe’s most-scouted goalkeepers, Igor Akinfeev broke into the CSKA Moscow first team at the age of 17 and has not been forced out since. Along with winning the UEFA Cup and three national championships, he has been awarded the Zvezda trophy, given to the best football player from the former Soviet Union. Shaping up to be the world’s best goalkeeper.

STAR MAN – ROMAN PAVLYUCHENKO

By no means he was first choice at Harry Redknapp’s rejuvenated Tottenham Hotspur team, but the current Lokomotiv Moscow hitman remains the number one striker for his country. He scored both the goals in Russia’s crucial 2-1 victory over England during UEFA EURO 2008 qualification, scored the first goal for Russia in the 3-1 win over Holland in the quarter-finals of that tournament and was named in the 23-man Squad of the Tournament. In short, Pavlyuchenko is a big-game player of some esteem and, in what appears to be the flimsiest group of the tournament, could be an early contender for the Golden Boot award.

THE MANAGER – DICK ADVOCAAT

Despite the ‘Little General’ taking Holland to the last eight of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the semi-finals of the UEFA EURO 2004, a public failing out with Ruud Gullit in 1993 curtailed any support Dick Advocaat had in his homeland. He has since managed South Korea, the UAE, Belgium and now Russia, after winning 2998 UEFA Cup with Zenit St Petersburg. Enjoys an excellent relationship with his captain and has reproduced a strong mentality in the squad who may feel more at home in Poland & Ukraine than the most.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Quarter-Finals – Russia, with almost the same players they had for the qualification to these finals, will be confident of making it through the group stages and to the 2nd Round or the quarter-finals. They are the favourites to top and the group and they should try and win the group because a second place finish in the group is likely to mean a 2nd round clash with European and World Champions Spain. The other likely 2nd round opponent would be Italy unless we see some major upsets from Republic of Ireland or Croatia.

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