Russian News Update: Messi To Face Hiddink & Arshavin In Moscow

Goal.com's Con Stamocostas looks at what made news in Russian football this week.
Russian media reported this week that the Russian Football Union and the Football Association of Argentina officially reached an agreement regarding the friendly match between the two national teams.

A strong Argentine team featuring Champions League winner Lionel Messi will take the field in Moscow on August 12.

The Argentine squad is:

Goalkeepers: Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio, Italy), Sergio Romero (AZ, Holland), Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes);

Defenders: Javier Zanetti, Nicolas Burdisso, Walter Samuel (all – Inter, Italy), Martin Demichelis (Bayern, Germany), Gabriel Heinze (Real, Spain), Daniel Dias (Getafe, Spain), Emiliano Papa (Velez Sarfield), Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes);

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England), Fernando Gago (Real, Spain), Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico, Spain), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle, England), Luis Gonzalez (Porto, Portugal), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes);

Strikers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Sergio Aguero (Atletico, Spain), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United, England), Ezequiel Lavezzi, German Denis (both – Napoli, Italy), Lisandro Lopez (Porto, Portugal), Angel di Maria (Benfica, Portugal), Diego Milito (Genoa, Italy)

Russia have never previously played Argentina.

Hiddink Announces Squad For World Cup Qualifier Against Finland.

Russia's two biggest stars who ply their trade in the English Premier League - Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin and Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko - are both included in Guus Hiddink’s squad to face Finland on June 10.

The website Russia Today reported that three home-based players had been recalled to the squad:

Spartak Moscow winger Vladimir Bystrov, who last played for Russia at Euro 2008; CSKA midfielder Evgeny Aldonin; and Dinamo striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who made his name in Europe by winning the UEFA Cup with Sevilla.

An excited Kerahakov told Sport-Express:

"I understood that I would receive an invitation from the coaches when Alexandr Borodyuk and Igor Korneev met with me before our match with Zenit last weekend.

"We talked to them and decided to start everything from the very beginning. I return to the team with great pleasure.

"Guus Hiddink didn’t cap me for Euro 2008 last year; however, it doesn’t matter anything for me anymore. My future is more important than the past and I will do everything to help Russia advance to the World Championship final stage.

"I told my family about my meeting with Borodyuk and Korneev and they were very happy for me, while this news came as a surprise for my friends, who didn’t know anything. I am very thankful to Andrey Kobelev and Dynamo because only thanks to their support I deserved this invitation.

"There is a wonderful atmosphere in the national team and I am glad to come back there. I will be pleased to meet my team-mates, talk to Malafeev and Zhirkov. It's pity that my friend Ivan Saenko stayed out of the roster, but I am sure he will return to the national side."

Spartak star Bystrov admitted that he was waiting expectantly for the call-up.

"I waited for this invitation, because I regained my peak form," said Bystrov to Sport-Express.

"Earlier I wasn’t ready to play on this level so I owe no grudges to coaches.

"I felt that I was not at my best form and it’s pleasant that national team coaches didn’t forget about me. Alexandr Borodyuk always phoned me and said that everything would be all right.

"Right after the Saturday match against Lokomotiv I will visit my parents in St. Petersburg, and then I will join the national side on June 3.

"I know that Finland is a good team, which could be very dangerous at home. Last year Germany was lucky to steak a point in Helsinki."

There is also one other rookie in the squad, who is CSKA youngster Pavel Mamaev. His team-mate Alan Dzagoev, considered the biggest new Russian talent, has been left out this time but has been picked in the under-21 side.

Three regulars in Hiddink’s lineup, Lokomotiv Moscow players Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Dmitry Sychev and Dmitry Torbinsky, who scored Russia’s winner against the Netherlands at Euro 2008, won’t play against the Finns due to injuries.

The Russian team is:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA), Vladimir Gabulov (Dinamo), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit)

Defenders: Alexey Berezutskiy, Vasiliy Berezutskiy, Sergey Ignashevich, Yury Zhirkov (all CSKA), Denis Kolodin (Dinamo), Renat Yanbaev (Lokomotiv);

Midfielders: Yevgeny Aldonin, Pavel Mamaev (both CSKA), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak M), Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov (all – Zenit), Sergey Semak (Rubin)

Forwards: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal, England), Alexander Kerzhakov (Dinamo), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham, England), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit).

Russia’s main rivals, Germany, top Group 4 in the World Cup qualifiers, with 16 points. Hiddink’s men are second, with 14 points and a game in hand.

Finland have played one game less than Russia, have seven points. Wales are fourth with six points and Azerbaijan and Lichtenstein have one point.

The winner of the group receives an automatic qualification to South Africa 2010, while the second team will progress into play-offs.

The Russian team and the coaching staff start pre-match preparations on June 3.

New Coach For Lokomotiv

Yuri Semin, who led Dinamo Kiev to the UEFA Cup semi-finals, will become the new coach of Lokomotiv Moscow, Sport-Express reports.

The official announcement is expected to be made after the end of the Ukrainian championship, in which Dinamo have already guaranteed themselves gold medals.

The 62-year-old will take charge of the Moscow club during the summer break in the Russian Premier League. Loko are set to establish a training camp in Austria from June 24 to July 6.

The current substitute coach, Vladimir Maminov, will stay on with the team and join Semin’s staff as assistant coach.

Lokomotiv started looking for a new coach after firing Rashid Rakhimov due to a poor start to the season in April.

Semin headed Loko back in 1986-2005, bringing the team two champion’s titles and five cup victories.

Dzagoev To Play For Youth Team

Yesterday, the Russian youth team’s coaching staff named players to prepare for the Euro 2011 qualifier against Faroe Islands.

The head coach Igor Kolyvanov capped 20 players for pre-match preparations:

Goalkeepers: Sergey Pesyakov (Shinnik), Evgeny Pomazan (CSKA);

Defenders: Roman Amirkhanov (Sibir), Giya Grigalava (Moskva), Andrey Ivanov (Tom), Evgeny Makeev (Spartak), Mikhail Mischenko (Terek), Georgy Schennikov (CSKA);

Midfielders: Igor Gorbatenko, Vladislav Ryzhkov (both – Spartak), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA), Alexey Ionov, Anton Sosnin (both – Zenit), Alexey Kozlov (Nizhny Novgorod), Semen Fomin (Lokomotiv);

Strikers: Artem Dzyuba (Spartak), Alexandr Kokorin (Dynamo), Alexandr Prudnikov (Terek), Dmitry Ryzhov (CSKA), Alexandr Stavpets (Moskva)

The team will start preparations on June 3, while the game will be held on June 9.

Dinamo Drop Complaint After CSKA's Maazou Clarifies Race Comment

RIA Novosti reported this week that Dinamo Moscow had withdrawn a complaint filed with the Russian football authorities over "unacceptable and insulting" comments made by CSKA Moscow's Nigerian striker, Ouwo Moussa Maazou.

The incident has its roots in a mid-May Russian Cup semi-final between Dinamo and CSKA during which Maazou, 20, was racially abused by a group of Dinamo fans. The club were subsequently fined some $3,200 over its supporters' behaviour.

After the game, which CSKA won, Maazou seemed to suggest in an interview with Sport-Express that the fact that there were no black players in the Dinamo side meant the club tacitly approved of its fans' actions.

However, after Dinamo lodged an official protest over his comments, Maazou told the CSKA website that he may have been "misunderstood" and that he had not wanted to accuse the club of condoning the fans' behaviour.

Racism has long been an issue in Russian football, with black players frequently complaining of abuse.

In March, Zenit St. Petersburg goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev told the country's Futbol magazine that the far-right views of the club's supporters made it impossible for the club to sign a black player.