Russia - Czech Republic Preview: Advocaat's side commence Euro 2012 campaign in Wroclaw
Semi-finalists four years ago in Austria & Switzerland, the Dutch coach will be hoping his team can start Group A positively against Michal Bilek's men
By Mohammed Ali
Anyukov, Igna'vich, Berezutskiy, Zhirkov
Shirokov, Denisov, Zyryanov
Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin
Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Rajtoral
Rezek, Rosicky, Pilar
Russia coach Dick Advocaat is sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev ahead of the Group A opener against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw on Friday.
The 26-year-old did not train with the rest of the group on Tuesday after a flare-up of the knee injury which plagued the CSKA Moscow goalkeeper for much of last season. Though Akinfeev did feature for 45 minutes in Russia's 3-0 victory over Italy in Zurich last Friday, Zenit's Vyacheslav Malafeev will be on standby should the former fail a late fitness test.
Marat Izmailov and Alexander Anyukov have both overcome knocks to feature, though the former could well lose out to Alan Dzagoev for a starting berth.
Czech Republic's only doubt centres around the fitness of Milan Baros. The Galatasaray forward did not train on Wednesday under the advice of the medical team, but should be able to feature against the Russians.
Should the 30-year-old not make it, either Tomas Necid or Tomas Pekhart could assume the role of centre-forward as Michal Bilek's side aim for the best possible start at Euro 2012.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Russia commence their Euro 2012 quest unbeaten in their last 14 games, culminating in the 3-0 win over Italy on Friday.
- Of the 23-man squad at Advocaat's disposal, 11 appeared at Euro 2008 where Russia reached the semi-finals, whilst seven also featured at Euro 2004.
- Russia have the oldest forwards in the tournament with an average age of 30, in stark contrast to England (23) and Poland (24).
- Advocaat's side conceded just four goals in Euro 2012 qualifying, on their way to topping Group B ahead of Republic of Ireland.
- Czech Republic qualified for Euro 2012 by narrowly edging out Scotland to finish second in Group I, before beating Montenegro 3-0 in the play-offs.
- However, coach Bilek - who will make his tournament debut as national team boss on Friday - oversaw the 2-1 defeat to Hungary in their final international friendly.
- Five members of the squad are set to play in their third successive European Championship.
- Milan Baros (pictured right) was top scorer at Euro 2004 in Portugal with five goals - no player has won the Golden Boot twice in European Championship history. The striker is 8/1 to score the first goal when the Czech Republic take on Russia with Paddy Power.
Top 3 Predictions
Russia 2-1 Czech Republic
- 19.61 %
Russia 2-0 Czech Republic
- 14.3 %
Russia 1-1 Czech Republic
- 11.53 %
|Euro 2012 (EC)||09-Jun-2012||Russia 4 - Czech Republic 1|
|05-Mar-2014||Russia 2 - Armenia 0||FR|
|19-Nov-2013||Russia 2 - South Korea 1||FR|
|15-Nov-2013||Russia 1 - Serbia 1||FR|
|15-Oct-2013||Azerbaijan 1 - Russia 1||WCQE|
|12-Oct-2013||Luxembourg 0 - Russia 4||WCQE|
|-||Marat Nailevich Izmailov|
|2||Theodor Gebre Selassie||Defender|