Team Profile: Euro 2008 semi-finalists Russia topped their qualifying group for the first time in five attempts, conceding just four goals in ten games. Their track record in the European Championships stretches back to the inaugural tournament in 1960, which the Soviet Union went on to win. Subsequent appearances have seen them reach, yet ultimately fail to win, three finals in 1964, 1972 and 1988, after which poor performances dominated until their unexpected return to the business end of the tournament four years ago. Their form in World Cup campaigns has proven less successful, their best result being fourth place in the 1966 competition, but the team has been playing some attractive football under current manager Dick Advocaat, notably in their last qualifier, when they knocked six past Andorra. Can they do the same against sterner opponents?
Coach: Dick Advocaat
With experience managing his home country, the Netherlands, as well as South Korea, the UAE and Belgium, Dutchman Dick Advocaat is a familiar face in international football. At club level his greatest success came at the helm of Russian team FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, winning the Russian title in 2007 and the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2008, which no doubt played a part in his appointment as Russia’s manager in May 2010. Nicknamed ‘Little General’, the former midfielder has already stated his desire to move on after Euro 2012, so he’ll no doubt be keen to go out with a flourish.
Player to watch: Andrei Arshavin
Attacking midfielder Arshavin shone during the last European Championships in Austria and Switzerland four years ago, resulting in his move from Zenit Saint Petersburg to English club Arsenal a year later for a princely sum. Despite flashes of brilliance, the 30-year-old has largely struggled to find consistent form in the Premier League, and was loaned back to Zenit earlier in the year, with Arshavin citing regular football to secure his place at the upcoming Euros as the reason. On a good day, the Russian captain is almost unplayable, so here’s hoping he hits top form.
FIFA World Ranking: 11
UEFA Euro Ranking: 7
Number of Euro appearances: 13
Previous best: Winners in 1960
Qualification: Winners of Group B – 17 goals scored, 4 goals against, 59 attempts on target, 69 corners
Form (qualifying): WLWWDWWDWW
Fixtures: June 8 vs. Czech Republic; June 12 vs. Poland; June 16 vs. Greece