A good start will be crucial in an evenly matched group, and Al Hain-Cole expects Dick Advocaat's side to seize the initiative by winning a low scoring opener against the Narodak
With any one of the four teams in with a realistic chance of progressing to the next stage, the pressure is on for each nation to make every game count.
Russia are considered the favourites to top the group, and if they are to live up to this billing then they must hit the ground running with a positive result against the Czech Republic.
Dick Advocaat’s men are widely expected to do just that, and are at 6/5 (2.20) with William Hill to get the ball rolling with a victory today.
The Czech Republic have a decent pedigree in the last few European Championships, but seem to have fallen from grace somewhat recently, and this is reflected in their relatively long 13/5 (3.60) odds to win their opening game.
These two sides actually met in the group stages of Euro '96, where the Czechs scored a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw to clinch their qualification from the group stage and set them on their way to a memorable second-place finish.
The odds are 2/1 (3.00) on the Eastern European nations sharing the spoils again this time.
Both teams built their qualification campaigns on strong defensive foundations, and Russia looked particularly impressive as they conceded only four goals in 10 games to finish top of their group.
This miserly Russian back-line should therefore have no real problem against the lowest scoring team to make it to Poland and Ukraine, and look a good bet to keep a clean sheet at 6/5 (2.20).
Should Petr Cech carry his heroic Chelsea form into the international arena, then we may well see a dearth of goals at his end as well.
In that case, odds of 5/2 (3.50) on Russia winning and under 2.5 goals being scored seem very inviting indeed.
|Russia to keep a clean sheet at 6/5 (2.20) with William Hill
||Russia to win and under 2.5 goals at 5/2 (3.50) with William Hill
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.
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