Soccer News: Is Russia the Dark Horse?
“We are the best team at the EURO 2012!” says Advocaat
Before the start of UEFA EURO 2012, many experts named Russia as the “underdog” who could eventually win the tournament. Russia Head Coach Dick Advocaat takes that at least one step further by confidently naming Russia as the team who played the best soccer within the tournament. Time for SoccerNation to take a closer look at the Russian team, their recent performances and their key players:
Blowout against the Czechs
With their 4-1 walkover against the Czech Republic Russia truly had a terrific start in the tournament. The Russians impressed not only through their fast combination play and counter attacks but also through the amount of clear-cut chances they created. In the end the Czechs can consider themselves lucky that they conceded only four goals.
Backstroke against Poland
Hyped after their first game, Russia tied the second one against co-host Poland. Even though the team of coach Advocaat was clearly dominating in the first half of the game as they took the lead, Russia shifted down a gear in the second half and consequently ended up with a 1-1 draw. To go on to the quarter final Russia now has to score at least one point against Greece.
|Alan Dzagoev leads the Russian attack at UEFA EURO 2012 with three goals in two matches.
Photo Credit: rafizeldi/Flikr
The youngest player in the Russian team is one of the most important ones as well. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev is not only the architect in chief of Russia's attacks, he also has to skill to finish. With two goals in the first game and the go-ahead goal in the second, Dzagoev is one of the top-scorers of the tournament. Being one of the brightest lights in the tournament, his name is already being linked to top English clubs like Arsenal or Chelsea. However, his current club CSKA Moscow is not interested in selling the centerpiece of the Russian offense.
|Russian captain Andrey Arshavin leads the team on the pitch. Photo Credit: Aleksandr Chistyakov/Soccer.ru
Sorted out by Arsenal-coach Arsene Wenger, Russia’s captain Andrey Arshavin has played himself back into European soccer hearts as he did before during the EURO 2008. Arshavin, who is on loan to Zenit Saint Petersburg, is not only known for his assists but also for his precise crossings and fast dribbling. With three assists already, Arshavin is part and parcel of the Russian offense and their counterattacks, and has proven Wenger wrong for not placing enough reliance on the 31-year-old any more.
The final decision if Russia can book their ticket for the quarterfinal is being made on Saturday, 11.45 a.m., on the final match-day of Group A. With a victory against the so far underperforming Greeks, Russia goes on as the group winner and faces the second of Group B.
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