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European Championship

  • June 8, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Stadion Miejski, Wrocław
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 40803
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Live Commentary

  • That's it from me, Mohammed Ali, this evening. Hope you enjoyed Goal.com's Euro 2012 coverage, and be sure to continue getting involved with Euro 2012 LIVE! on our homepage. All again tomorrow with Netherlands v Denmark and Germany v Portugal. Enjoy!
  • That caps off a wonderful opening day of Euro 2012. Superb game played in Wroclaw as the Russians thump the Czechs. Alan Dzagoev the star man, Michal Bilek's men now need to regroup ahead of Tuesday's game against Greece.
  • 90' + 3'
    FULL-TIME: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic.
  • 90' + 2'
    Petrzala takes possession of the ball, but decides to take on one man too many before being stopped in his tracks. Petrzala scores, but offside.
  • 90'
    A great game coming to an end in Wroclaw as we move into injury time. Cech takes the goal-kick, but an offside call means Russia have hte ball with a free-kick.
  • 90'
    Goal.com's MatchCentre statistics now read that Russia have fallen behind in the possession stats, with the Czech Republic leading possession 50.5%.
  • 89'
    Have you checked our new Goal.com Match Rating? MrNeale92 has: He's rated this match four out of five stars: Wonderful game from Russia with Love to the Czech's who were heartbroken. Rate this match, now!
  • 89'
    Michael Meshreky on Goal.com's chatbox: Russia are starting brightly, as they did In Euro 2008, looks like they're gonna have a good tournament this year.
  • 89'
    @Yourmi1 on Twitter: Great style of football from the Russians
  • 88'
    Plasil steps over a free-kick, but it's also an easy take for Malafeev. Minutes remaining in this one, and what a game it's been. Russia confirmed as the dark horse in this tournament.
  • 87'
    Goal.com's Mark Smith, our Czech expert: No more than the Russians have deserved. Wonderful finish by the substitute and ex-Spurs man. First Sharapova dumps Kvitova out of the French Open - now this! The Czech fans will be glad to see the back of the Russians after this week.
  • 86'
    The man of the match Alan Dzagoev is substituted in favour of Kokorin. Baros meanwhile departs, to be replaced by Lafata.
  • 85'
    Substitution Milan Baros David Lafata
  • 84'
    Substitution Alan Dzagoev Aleksandr Kokorin
  • 84'
    ROSICKY! Saved again by Malafeev. The Czechs aren't giving up, but they might as well. Rosicky fires a teasing shot but it's a good take from Malafeev.
  • 83'
    It's turning into a disaster for Bilek's men late on as Russia turn on the style in Wroclaw. Superb by Arshavin to find Pavlyuchenko again. Advocaat's side look like the real deal too.
  • 82'
    Assist Andrey Arshavin
  • 82'
    Goal Roman Pavlyuchenko
    GOOOALLL!!! 4-1!! PAVLYUCHENKO! What an amazing goal. The Russians lost 4-1 in their opening game four years ago, and now they've inflicted their own damage. Fantastic from the former Tottenham man who turns in Hubnik, runs and fires a high shot above Cech. 4-1!
  • 80'
    Dark horse or not, this has been a great game from the Russians and Dzagoev in particular. Almost certain to finish as group winners.
  • 79'
    Assist Roman Pavlyuchenko
  • 79'
    Goal Alan Dzagoev
    GOOAAL! ALL OVER! ALAN DZAGOEV MAKES IT 3-1! 12 minutes left, and Dzagoev puts it to bed. His second goal, and Alan Dzagoev fires into the back of the net past Cech after a neat pass from Pavlyuchenko.
  • 79'
    Early surge for the Golden Boot award: Alan Dzagoev. What a start for the Russian forward. Definitely tipped for a move abroad this summer. Kerzhakov looks on forlorn on the touchline.
  • 77'
    ZHIRKOV! Blocked by Hubnik. Russia are upping the ante as the match enters its final stage in Wroclaw.
  • 76'
    Substitution Petr Jirácek Milan Petržela
  • 76'
    Czech change now: Jiracek is replaced by Petrzela for the last quarter of an hour.
  • 76'
    Kerzhakov's seven shots off target is now the record for the most shots off target by one player in any one game in European Championship history. Poor lad.
  • 75'
    ROSICKY! GOOD SAVE MALAFEEV! Rosicky fires a low shot towards the goalkeeper, and after an awkward save, the ball bounces back up before being clutched at the second attempt.
  • 73'
    Substitution Aleksandr Kerzhakov Roman Pavlyuchenko
  • 73'
    Former Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko is set to replace Aleksandr Kerzhakov after a rather wasteful game from the forward. A few cheers though, the fans have noticed his work-rate.
  • 72'
    SELASSIE! What a shot. Fantastic volley, and it smashes into the side-netting. What an effort, reminiscent of Marco van Basten's legendary goal at Euro 1988. But it was not to be.
  • 71'
    To add a bit of insult to injury, Kerzhakov is clattered by Tomas Sivok. Could Dick Advocaat be preparing a substitute soon?
  • 70'
    KERZHAKOV! His seventh attempt, and again, he misses a shocker. Abosolutely careless, and the poor man is hurting. Another wasteful chance after a fantastic turn off Kadlec. It sails wide, when once again, it should've gone into the back of the net.
  • 69'
    Goal.com's Mark Smith: I feel the Russians could step up another gear at anytime, it feels like a very complacent performance from them, despite leading 2-1. Should have been 4-0 at HT. Bilek could be about to strike lucky again.
  • 68'
    KERZHAKOV! He again, gets a tad bit careless. Finds space on the right, and tasked with getting past Hubnik, Kerzhakov slices it totally, going far wide of Cech's goal.
  • 66'
    @Eziafa on Twitter: Dzagoev is showing plenty of promise!
  • 66'
    It has opened up this! Zhirkov stretches on the far left-hand side, and crosses in towards a Russian team-mate. Michael Kadlec reads well to head the ball away.
  • 65'
    KERZHAKOV! Oh my, my, my. Should've been three. Lovely ball from Arshavin on the right hand side who finds the Zenit man, but Kerzhakov drags it wide, when he should've again put it into the bottom corner. Frustrating.
  • 64'
    PILAR! Blocked shot, but it's Russia on the break here, moving swiftly up the pitch in numbers.....
  • 64'
    Zhirkov overlaps on the far side, and as he turns into the penalty box, he is met with a challenge from Jiracek as Howard Webb awards a free-kick in the Czech Republic's favour.
  • 62'
    ZYRYANOV! Given space and time, but he too opts for the long distance shot. Over Cech's bar, just as Shirokov's effort moments ago.
  • 61'
    Slovan Liberec's Gebre Selassie is reprimanded for a foul on Yury Zhirkov. Under a half-an-hour to go in this one, but what an opening day it's been!
  • 60'
    Arshavin attempts to thread a weighted ball towards Kerzhakov, but it is slightly over-hit as Cech picks up the ball. Sloppy from the Russians.
  • 59'
    Alaba Olumide Michael on Goal.com's chatbox - Wow that goal really change the atmosphere. Nishant Pant: Rosicky back to life in second half...if he plays ­well....Czechs still have a chance.
  • 58'
    Russia passing the ball around with ease, but without urgency around the penalty box. Arshavin, Dzagoev and Shirokov all attempting to negotiate a way past the Czech defence, but the ball is cleared.
  • 57'
    Mark Smith, our Czech Republic expert: Plasil plays in Vaclav Pilar, the Czechs standout player, who rounds the keeper to reduce the deficit. The goal will give the kid a massive confidence boost. Game on.
  • 57'
    Goal.com's Russian expert Max de Haldevang: Lovely ball and top finish from Pilar. He's been threatening all night and he lost Anyukov there with a wonderful run. Against the run of play and you just can't tell what's coming next in this game.
  • 56'
    Greece expert Michael Paterakis: "Greece want Russia's win as they will be hoping that with a second one against Poland the Russians will be more relaxed when they face them in match-day three."
  • 55'
    Shirokov! He's missed! The man who doubled Russia's advantage in the second half fails to do so again despite a good move from the middle. Couldn't really keep his shot down.
  • 54'
    Selassie misses the target from Plasil's corner, but it is Russia on the attack to try and restore their two goal lead.
  • 53'
    A raft of Goal.com readers using our new chatbox are praising Pilar's goal. Really good move from Plasil to find Vaclav Pilar. Interesting developments here in Wroclaw.
  • 53'
    The Municipal Stadium erupts in joy as the Czechs make it 2-1. Out of nowhere, and they have been revitalised by that goal.
  • 52'
    Assist Jaroslav Plasil
  • 52'
    Goal Václav Pilař
    GOAL! OUT OF NOWHERE! PILAR SCORES! What a fantastic move, and what a run from Pilar who reduces the deficit. A fine pass from the midfield finds the number 14 who goes around Malafeev, and into the back of the net. Superb. Absolutely superb.
  • 50'
    Third chance for Advocaat's men in as many minutes as Kerzhakov is provided with two options on the edge of the area. He opts to shoot, rather than cross the ball, and it flies inches wide of Cech's goal
  • 49'
    Hubnik's dispossession opens up the defence, with Arshavin on the left linking with Denisov, but the Arsenal man cannot get past Cech.
  • 48'
    Michal Bilek looks to have altered his strategy, which now appears to be maintaining possession off the ball. Kadlec and Pilar combine on the left, though Hubnik's pass is cut out.
  • 46'
    Substitution Jan Rezek Tomas Hubschmann
  • 46'
    Arshavin waltzes in past the Czech defence, but his cross evades everyone and peters out for a throw-in.
  • 46'
    UNDERWAY IN WROCLAW! The Czechs kick us off, attacking from right to left.
  • Remember to check out all the new features right here on Goal.com's new MatchCentre. All the statistics for your viewing. Continue to send us your messages using the chatbox on the right. I'll look forward to posting up your opinions!
  • Substitution at half-time. Tomas Hubschman coms on for Rezek. The teams are out for the second period.
  • @Vene777 on Twitter: Dzagoev is a future star of European Football. He is what I like to call a BEAST!
  • Goal.com's Russian expert Max de Haldevang: Shirokov and Zyryanov have been quality in the middle, orchestrating everything and playing the front three right into space. Those three are looking lethal when given the space and hungry for more. Czech defence seems all over the place when threatened with that movement. Pilar and Anyukov are having an interesting tussle on the far side with both having good moments but Anyukov surprisingly quiet in attack.
  • PaladinEl­lz on Goal.com's chatbox: Arshavin is playing WELL! Considering his ­performan­ces for Arsenal.
  • Goal.com's Czech expert Mark Smith sums up the first half from a Czech perspective: Horrific 45 minutes for the Czech defense. But it's not over yet, some promising moves, Jiracek and Pilar look dangerous. But credit to the Russian counter attacks. Bilek needs to earn his money during half time team talk. Odds are he will return to the bench looking like Phil Mitchell at closing time.
  • @affable_inex on Twitter: Dzagoev's been impressive, he's had a great first half, but the tournament just started, lets see how it goes.
  • Good first half from the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw. The Czechs, who outplayed the sluggish Russians for much of the early period where stunned when two counter-attacking moves of the highest quality were converted by Alan Dzagoev and Roman Shirokov. At half-time it's 2-0.
  • 45' + 2'
    HALF-TIME: RUSSIA 2-0 CZECH REPUBLIC (Dzagoev 15' Shirokov 24')
  • 45' + 2'
    JIRACEK! Fired over the bar from distance, and that should be the last action of the first-half.
  • 45' + 1'
    Worrying moment again from the Czech Republic as Dzagoev runs down the right flank. His pass is short, but another wayward pass from Hubnik is hurriedly cleared by Cech.
  • 45' + 1'
    PILAR! Well saved by Malafeev. A cross from Selassie finds Pilar who rises highest to powerfully head the ball but fails to get past the Zenit shot-stopper.
  • 45'
    Two minutes added onto the end of the first half.
  • 44'
    Theodor Gebre Selassie wins a free-kick off Yury Zhirkov, when really, it should've gone out for a throw-in. Luckily, however, it fails to troublethe goalkeeper.
  • 43'
    Plasil, of Bordeaux is next to concede a free-kick with a lunge on Kerzhakov. Despite his innocence, Howard Webb will not budge.
  • 42'
    The attacking tempo of the game has fallen sharply in the last few minutes with the Czechs seemingly wanting to return back to the dressing rooms.
  • 41'
    Milan Baros, rather invisible this evening in Wroclaw, concedes a free-kick for a foul on Sergey Ignashevich.
  • 40'
    "Wonderful movement and finish from Shirokov from a pass that seemed aimed for Kerzhakov," so says our Russia expert Max de Haldevang. "Russia looking very dangerous in attack but I wouldn't write the Czechs off just yet, Pilar, especially is looking good on the left."
  • 39'
    As Michal pointed out earlier, Bilek looks like a man resigned. 2-0 down and offering no response, he sits slumped on his seat. Meanwhile, Rosicky delivers a cross which goes absolutely nowhere.
  • 38'
    James Hickman on the Goal.com MatchCentre chatbox: Russia dark horses for the ­tournamen­t? - On this viewing, certainly so!
  • 37'
    Rezek, who has probably been the Czech's best player so far tonight, is found in an offside position after latching onto Plasil's pass.
  • 36'
    Pilar takes possession of the ball on the far side, but opts to take on Alexandr Anyukov. The right-back bides his time, before forcing the ball out of play. Goal-kick.
  • 35'
    Kerzhakov forced wide, and concedes a throw-in. Dick Advocaat meanwhile, expresses his frustration on the touch-line at Kerzhakov's miss.
  • 34'
    Goal.com's Czech expert Mark Smith: Czech's are being torn apart by the intricate Russians. Arshavin plays a wonderful ball to Zenit team mate, Shirokov, who makes it two nil. The Czechs are shellshocked. Poor opening 25 minutes for the defense.
  • 33'
    KERZHAKOV! Over. Another fine move, but the Russia no.11 fires it over the bar. It's Arshavin on the attack on the right, and Kerzhakov leans back to shoot, but fires it over Cech's bar.
  • 31'
    Corner from Bilek's men. Whipped in threateningly from the right hand side, but Pilar's effort on goal is well saved again. Russia out on top in this first half an hour.
  • 29'
    Free-kick on the right awarded to the Czech Republic, with Selassie taking the free-kick, but again fails to trouble Malafeev.
  • 28'
    Our Goal.com MatchCentre is providing all the statistics, and I'll tell you, stats don't lie. Russia are coming out on top in nearly every category, except the total crosses.
  • 27'
    Penalty? No. Howard Webb waves play on with the Czech Republic being under the kosh with Dick Advocaat's men testing Bilek's side to the limit. Sivok heads back to Cech under pressure from Arshavin.
  • 26'
    Goal.com's Michal Zachodny inside the stadium: Michal Bilek looks resigned - when the second goal gone in, he simply shook his head in disbelief, turned back and took his seat. His defence is dreadful and only yesterday he was still uncertain whether choose Hubnik or Limbersky. Well, on that evidence, the Czech press will eat him alive.
  • 25'
    Two fantastic moves from the Russians and they've certainly been reaping the rewards. Our new Goal.com MatchCentre has recorded possession as 51.4% in favour of the Russians to 48.6% Have a look around the MatchCentre with all the statistics available, and get involved with the chat box on the right.
  • 24'
    Assist Andrey Arshavin
  • 24'
    Goal Roman Shirokov
    GOAL! RUSSIA MAKE IT TWO! The man who scored two against Italy, has made it 2-0 for Russia! What a flowing move, as Plasil loses the ball and again, another counter-attack finds Shirokov on the far side and dinks the ball over Cech and into the goal.
  • 22'
    Good move from the Czechs who have Rezek on the far side, and again, their usage from set-pieces tells as a header from the same player is wel saved by Malafeev.
  • 21'
    Goal.com's Czech Republic expert Mark Smith: Somewhat against the run of play, Dzagoev fires past Petr Cech as the Czech defense are caught ball watching. Bad news for the Czechs. Fans are sure to vent frustration, mainly at friendless coach, Michal Bilek.
  • 20'
    Goal.com's Russia expert Max de Haldevang: Great move from Russia, good touches from all of the front three and a lovely cross from Zyryanov. Russia have looked sluggish until then but they showed there that the have the quality to create something from nothing.
  • 19'
    DZAGOEV! What a miss. Should've been 2-0 in all honesty. The Czechs have been opened up, and Kerzhakov notices a fantastic path towards Dzagoev, before the latter, one-on-one against Cech, but at an angle, fires wide. Howler.
  • 18'
    Czech Republic are looking to issue a response, but Baros is adjudged to be in an offside position. They look to be already struggling against Russia's ferocious counter-attacking moves.
  • 16'
    Fantastic build-up for that goal, with Zyryanov floating a pin-point cross for Kerzhakov who headed against the post. The Czechs had been dominating, but it is Russia who lead in Wroclaw!
  • 15'
    Assist Aleksandr Kerzhakov
  • 15'
    Goal Alan Dzagoev
    GOOALLL!! RUSSIA SCORE! ALAN DZAGOEV BREAKS THE DEADLOCK! Fantastic counter-attack, with Dzagoev starting the move, and Kerzhakov hitting the post with a fine header. The Czechs failed to get it away, and Dzagoev - tipped as a potential Young Player of the tournament - fires into the bottom corner.
  • 14'
    KERZHAKOV! Dragged wide. The first serious chance in tonight's game. Corner again taken by Arshavin, in towards Zhirkov with a fantastic piece of link-up play. Kerzhakov fires wide.
  • 13'
    Arshavin emerges on the opposite side of the field with the ball and after an intricate dribble, his cross is charged down for a corner.
  • 12'
    ROSICKY! Over. An energetic move from the Czechs is ended with the Arsenal midfielder opting to shoot from 25 yards out, but going over Malafeev's bar.
  • 11'
    The flanks are the areas where the Czech Republic appear to be utilising the most with Kadlec and Selassie offering pace and power. Another cross from the left is slightly over-hit, but Rezek does well to maintain the ball in play.
  • 10'
    Gebre Selassie and Jiracek combine well on the right wing, with the latter floating in a cross which is cleared by the alert Alexei Berezutski. Rezek then proceeds to concede a free-kick on Zyryanov.
  • 9'
    Kadlec emerges from the left wing with a low ball in towards Rosicky. Pilar takes possession, but his simple touch back towards the left-wing is read by Anyukov.
  • 7'
    Encouraging start from Bilek's men who have maintained possession in the Russian half for the last few minutes. Remember, Advocaat's men beat Italy 3-0 last Friday in Zurich.
  • 6'
    Huge chants from the Czech support, roaring their side on. Plasil threads a neat ball in towards Baros, but the move breaks down.
  • 5'
    Rezek's clearly a man most marked by the Russian defence, after being fouled for a third time in five minutes. Free-kick from the left, drifted into the box by Plasil, but headed over by Roman Hubnik. Harmlessly over Malafeev's goal that.
  • 4'
    Taken by Plasil, it was delivered high, above the defence but caught on the hand by Hubnik. Nothing given, but another corner awarded is cleared accordingly. Good pressure from Bilek's men inside the first four minutes.
  • 3'
    A few fouls punctuating the early flow of the game, with Yury Zhirkov the next to be reprimanded. Meanwhile, Czech Republic have a corner.
  • 2'
    A good move from the Czechs who dispossess their opponents early on, before surging forward in numbers. Jaroslav Plasil lofts a ball in towards Baros, but Malafeev saves easily.
  • 2'
    And immediately, Kerzhakov is fouled by Rezek on the halfway line. Howard Webb awards the Russians their first free-kick. Seconds later, Alan Dzagoev is also tugged down by Kadlec.
  • 1'
    UNDERWAY! Match 2 of 32! Russia get us underway, attacking from left to right.
  • Our Goal.com MatchCentre with a few more stats: Russia have made 223 passes in the first half, with a 78.0% accuracy rate, compared to the Czech Republic's 188 passes (76.1%). Both sides also have made two shots on target from six and seven shots in total respectively.
  • The brilliant Michal Zachodny back with more from Wroclaw: As both teams are in the dressing rooms, there are two guys from Czech Republic, showing off their skills, juggling, technique... but most interesting thing is that Tomas Hubschman is preparing to be introduced as he warmed-up with a coach and then received instructions from Bilek's assistant.
  • Anthems done, handshakes over. Almost underway in the brand new Municipal Stadium, home to Polish champions Slask Wroclaw.
  • Michal's back with more: "Interestingly, when the squads were read out, each Czech player was given huge ovation and cheer... yet the manager of the team, Michal Bilek was given a huge jeer. He is not popular among his fellow countrymen."
  • The teams emerge from the tunnel, Russia in red, Czech Republic in white. We are minutes away from kick-off!
  • Goal.com's Michal Zachodny is inside the stadium in Wroclaw this evening: "You can sense the anticipation before the game that is just few minutes from the kick-off. Huge expectations on that Russia side, yet far more Czechs inside and they are much, much louder. The pre-match ceremony is also about to start, bit less spectacular than it was in Warsaw!"
  • Tonight's referee is arguably the most famous since Pierluigi Collina. England's Howard Webb takes the whistle at the Municipal Stadium. An official who can count the 2010 World Cup final and Champions League final on his CV, he will be hoping that he doesn't go the same way as Carlos Velasco Carballo in the opening game.
  • @SOSReport on Twitter: Semi Finals or winners. Russia will be fitter, more together & smarter than almost everyone else.
  • Also a few tweets coming in with readers predicting how far Russia will go at Euro 2012. @Haziq_Palo reckons Advocaat's men will go as far as the semis, with @iambabadivision predicting a first round exit! Mixed variety, there.
  • Goal.com's Russia expert Max de Haldevang is back with more: Malafeev is a huge call in goal. Some are saying that it's down to Akinfeev's injury and not having played enough but he's played six games for CSKA since returning and a game and a half in the friendlies and has done very well. So, I think Advocaat has simply gone on a hunch for the Zenit man, who guided Russia through the qualifiers and is in the form of his life.
  • Predictions time. I'm going for a 2-0 Russian victory. But what say you, the readers? @Klubxy on Twitter goes for a 2-1 victory for the Czech Republic. @NajeebWali is going for a 2-0 Russian victory too. @Chris_Tagbo meanwhile is predicting a rather specific 1-0 cagey victory for Bilek's men. Keep them coming to @goal_intl.
  • TEAM NEWS: Milan Baros has been passed fit to feature in tonight's game in Wroclaw. Michal Bilek sets his side out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Michael Kadlec moving out to the left wing, as Roman Hubnik partners Tomas Sivok in central defence. Russia are without goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, with Vyacheslav Malafeev replacing the CSKA shot-stopper who failed to shake off a recurring knee injury. Alan Dzagoev, tipped by many as a potential Young Player of the Year, is part of a three-man attacking trident.
  • Goal.com's Russia expert Max de Haldevang: Both teams will be galvanised after that draw. Rosicky vs Denisov and Arshavin vs Selassie going to be the key contests for me.
  • Czech Republic (4-2-3-1): Cech, Gebre Selassie, Kadlec, Hubnik, Sivok; Rezek, Rosicky; Plasil, Pilar, Jiracek; Baros. SUBS: Lastuvka, Drobny, suchy, Limbersky, Rajtoral, Petrzela, Hubschman, Kolar.
  • Russia (4-3-3): Malafeev, Anyukov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Berezutski; Shirokov, Denisov, Zyranov; Dazgoev, Arshavin, Kerzhakov. SUBS: Akinfeev, Shunin, Sharonov, Granat, Nababkin, Izmailov, Kombarov, Kokorin.
  • CONFIRMED TEAM LINE-UPS:
  • A few statistics to lighten up the mood. Did you know, 11 out of the 23-man squad from Russia participated at Euro 2008, whilst seven participated in 2004 in Portugal. Meanwhile, eight members of the Czech Republic party participated in 2008, whilst five - Petr Čech, Milan Baroš, Tomas Rosický, Jaroslav Plašil and Tomáš Hübschman are playing in their third European Championship.
  • Goal.com's Czech Republic expert Mark Smith: "I expect an attacking, open game as both sides will want to take control of the group. Last and only meeting between the two sides was 3-3 at Euro 1996. Baros starting will boost morale in the Czech camp."
  • In the Czech camp, Michal Bilek also defended his side, saying that they are not the weakest team in Group A: "I don't think we are the weakest team in the group," Bilek told reporters at a press conference on Thursday evening. "Our ambition is to qualify and go from there."
  • Dick Advocaat has been, well, pretty vocal ahead of tonight's clash, offering his thoughts: "When we started our preparations, we said straight away that we wanted to be number one," the 64-year-old coach told Sport Express. "But we can only say at the end of the tournament whether that was a realistic target or not. But we had a brilliant qualification, showing attacking, attractive football to our fans. We have excellent players and I have good feelings ahead of the first match."
  • Back to tonight's encounter. The two nations have only played each other once before in the European Championship. At Euro 1996, the Czechs hit back to claim a 3-3 draw against Russia at Anfield, with Vladimir Smicer scoring an 88th minute equaliser. It was also the first time both nations played in their current guise. As the USSR and Czechoslovakia, the Soviets won 3-0 in the inaugural tournament in 1960.
  • Czech Republic meanwhile, endured a poor tournament. Despite beating hosts Switzerland 1-0 on opening day, the Czechs then lost 3-1 to Portugal before being eliminated after a thrilling 3-2 defeat to Turkey, with Nihat's late, late winner breaking hearts.
  • How did the sides fare at Euro 2008, I hear you ask? Russia were arguably, (and along with Turkey) the most exciting side in the tournament. After a 4-1 defeat to eventual winners Spain on matchday one, Guus Hiddink's side carved out a narrow 1-0 win over Greece before Andrei Arshavin returned from suspension to star in the nation's 2-0 win over Sweden. The Netherlands were up next in the quarter-finals, and Russia ripped up the form book to claim a shock 3-1 victory after extra-time, before bowing out 3-0 to Spain in the semi-finals.
  • The Czech Republic meanwhile qualified for Euro 2012 through the proverbial back-door, the play-offs. After stealing second place in Group I behind Spain, and ahead of Scotland (after a controversial 2-2 draw in Glasgow), Michal Bilek's men preceded to then beat Montenegro 3-0 in the play-offs to claim their place in this summer's extravaganza.
  • The Russians qualified for Euro 2012 with relative ease, topping Group B ahead of Ireland, and only conceding four goals in their run to the European Championship. Advocaat's side remain eight games unbeaten in competitive outings, and 14 overall. Tipped by many as potential dark horses, the Russians will be hoping to emulate the side that featured in Austria and Switzerland just four years ago.
  • Just over six months has passed since the draw was made in Kiev, and tonight Russia, semi-finalists in 2008 and the Czech Republic, semi-finalists in 2004, get their campaigns underway. Three points is a must for both sides, with many tipping Dick Advocaat's men to claim victory. Whilst Poland and Greece played out a draw, the onus is on both sides to go top of Group A early on, with three points.
  • I'm Mohammed Ali, and I'll be bringing you LIVE updates from the Group A clash, and as always, what has been a feature of our live text commentaries, you can always get involved by sending us your comments, predictions and opinions throughout the next two hours over on Twitter @goal_intl. If the opening game is anything to go by, we're in for a real treat!
  • It's here. Finally here! Good evening, and welcome one and all to Goal.com's LIVE text commentary of Euro 2012. After the opening match played earlier this evening in the Polish capital Warsaw, between the co-hosts and Greece, it is the turn of Russia and the Czech Republic to commence battle at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw.