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Friday, May 30, 2008

Euro 2008: Russia Squad

Russia is not a big name in the football world. They are not even considered as a big power in Europe. However, it seems that time has come to take Russia seriously. Particularly, after their Euro 2008 qualifying round success, Russia seems to be emerging as a tough European side. Russia finished in second place in Group E of qualifying round where they had to face England and Croatia, two established sides in Europe. Russia’s glowing performance in Euro 2008 qualifying round proved lethal for England being failed to get the ticket of Euro 2008 final competition. So, no doubt, Russia is going into the tournament with lots of self-confidence. Euro 2008 starts from 7 June 2008. This year the competition will be organized by Austria and Switzerland jointly.

Soviet Union participated in the first four European championship tournaments. However, Russia as an independent country first took part in UEFA Euro tournament in 1996 after finishing first in the group of qualifying round, but their performance in the final competition was not good enough to get into the next round. Four years later, they failed to get the ticket of final competition, but they again appeared in the biggest stage of European football in Euro 2004, but could not show anything impressive getting out of the tournament from the group stage. So, Euro 2008 is going to be the third tournament for Russia. Though their performance in the previous two tournaments was not inspirational, Russia can take inspiration from their qualifying round performance of Euro 2008. Dutch coach Guus Hiddink is well-known for bringing success and Russian fans are hoping that Russia will do well under Hiddink in Euro 2008. Many of you might know that Guus Hiddink led South Korea to win the fourth place in FIFA 2002 World Cup, the best ever performance by an Asian side.

Russia has been drawn into Group D of Euro 2008 where they have to face defending champion Greece, Sweden and Spain. So, it is pretty clear that Russia is not favorite to reach the next round from this group with the presence of big teams of Europe. You know that Spain is a football power in the world, while Greece was in impressive form in the last tournament under their German coach Auto Rehhagel. Sweden is also an impressive side in Europe. So, winning a quarter final spot will not be easy for Russia. However, still you know that Russia was not favorite to win a place in Euro 2008 final being drawn into the same group alongside England and Croatia in qualifying round. However, Russia’s impressive performance forced England to miss the Euro 2008 final competition. So, if Russia can continue their impressive run, then it is very possible for Russia to make it to the next round from Group D in Euro 2008 tournament.

Russia Coach Guus Hiddink declared 23-man final squad of Russia for Euro 2008 on last Tuesday. Two players have been left out of the final squad: Oleg Ivanov of Krylya Sovietov Samar and Alexander Pavlenko of Spartak Moscow, both of them got their first call in national side when Hiddink declared 25-man preliminary squad earlier this month. However, defender Renat Yanbayev of Lokomotiv Moscow could impress the coach and he is now the only new face in the final Russian squad for Euro 2008. You might know that striker Alexander Kerzhakov was omitted from the preliminary squad due to his current off form. Midfielder Sergei Semak makes it to the final squad thanks to his impressive form in Rubin Kazan in Russian Premier League. Igor Akinfeev will be the first choice goalkeeper, while during his injury Vyacheslav Malafeev and Vladimir Gabulov proved that they would be up to the mark when given the chance. Sergei Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutski and Aleksei Berezutski are automatic choice for Russia’s defense, while Aleksandr Anyukov has the versatility to play as a defensive midfielder. Denis Kolodin proved his skill as a centre-back. Russia played a 5-man midfield in the qualifying round which could be trimmed to four in Euro 2008 final. Because of five men in the midfield, Russia’s defense proved very strong and only conceding seven goals in qualifying round was in evidence of the strength of Russian defense. Igor Semshov and Konstantin Zyrianov are the effective holding midfielders. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Yuri Zhirkov, Vladimir Bystrov, Ivan Saenko and Dmitri Torbinskiy have the attacking approach in their game. Andrei Arshavin could play as a deep lying centre forward though he will miss the first two Euro 2008 games due to suspension. Pavel Pogrebnyak, Dmitri Sychev and Roman Pavlyuchenko are full of talent but lack consistency and it is expected that Guus Hiddink could bring young striker Renat Yanbaev, who is yet to win his first cap for national side.


Competing Teams


10 June 2008


Russia vs Spain

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

14 June 2008


Russia vs Greece

EM Stadion Wals-Siezenheim, Salzburg

18 June 2008


Russia vs Sweden

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

I think, Russia’s only problem lies in their attacking position, but if they can carry on their impressive performance that they showed during qualifying round, Russia could reach the next round from this group. Here, I am giving the full list of Russia’s 23 players of final squad for Euro 2008 from AFP:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Perm), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St Petersburg)

Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsy, Vasily Berezursky, Sergei Ignashevich (all CSKA Moscow), Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Renat Yanbayev (Lokomotiv Moscow)

Midfielders: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Dmitry Torbinsky (both Lokomotiv Moscow), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow), Konstantin Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov (both Zenit St Petersburg), Igor Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Semak (Kazan)

Strikers: Roman Adamov (FC Moscow), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak, Andrei Arshavin (both Zenit St Petersburg), Dmitry Sychev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Ivan Saenko (Nuremberg)

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Euro 2008



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