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As the Soviet Union, Russia won the first Euros in 1960 and were runners up in 1964, 1972 and 1988. But as Russia, the best they have achieved was third back in 2008, while reaching the quarter-finals at their home World Cup in 2018 was seen as a major success.
Russia’s two home games will be played in front of 50% capacity crowds, the largest attendance that will be allowed at the tournament this year.
Belgium – St Petersburg, Sat, June 12, 8pm
Finland – St Petersburg, Wed, June 16, 2pm
Denmark – Copenhagen, Mon, June 21, 2pm
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Russia qualified comfortably behind Belgium in Group I, winning all of their matches apart from the two against Belgium. They finished with a goal difference of +25 from the 10 games and key man Artem Dzyuba scored bagged nine. However, given that the others in the group were Scotland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and San Marino, those results should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Having been between the sticks for a decade for the Russian team between 1990 and 2000, Stanislav Cherchesov made the switch to management after retirement and had another decade of success in Austria, Russia and Poland before taking the top job back home.
Playing mostly in a 4-2-3-1 with Denis Cheryshev and Alexei Ionov on the wings, Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin plays at No. 10 and captain Dzyuba as the big striker and focal point of the attack. The versatile Aleksei Miranchuk is able to fill any of the attacking roles behind Dzyuba as and when needed.
Roman Zobnin and Magomed Ozdoev will play behind as the two holding players, while Andrei Semenov and Georgi Dzhikiya are the long-standing centre back partnership. With over 100 Russia caps, 37-year-old Yuri Zhirkov is still first choice at left-back and Brazilian-born Mario Fernandes is most often on the other side at right-back.
Artem Dzyuba is captain for club and country, Dzyuba has just led Zenit St Petersburg to their third Russian Premier League title in-a-row. The 6ft 6in target man creates as much as he scores and will be as important to his country as any other player in the tournament.
ONE TO WATCH
Aleksandr Golovin is a dead ball specialist and creator, but also a hard worker off the ball who defends high up the pitch. Golovin has struggled with injuries this season but has looked excellent when he’s been on the pitch for Monaco. If he can keep himself fit, he’ll be a creative force for Russia. Golovin and Dzyuba will trouble even the best of defences.
Here’s all the key data on Russia’s squad.
- Squads and statistics correct at time of data sheet creation.
Russia will be relying heavily their home advantage against Belgium and Finland, but they’ll be playing in Copenhagen for their final group game against Denmark, which could be a real struggle. They’re most likely to finish third in their group, and may be able to qualify that way, but once they lose their home advantage progressing much further would appear unlikely.
BEST BET: Handicap Betting: Russia (-1) v Finland
Russia’s second game is at home to Finland where they’ll be playing in front of at least 30,000 home fans in a must-win game. With Teemu Pukki fighting back from an ankle injury, take a gamble on him not being fit for that game and the crowd egging Russia on to a big win.
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