THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Watch out… The Russians are coming!

Dick Advocaat

Dick Advocaat

The UEFA EURO 2012 has kicked-off on Friday with co-hosts Poland and former champions Greece settling for a 1-1 draw, while Russia displayed their ambitions to pull a major surprise at the continental finals.

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The Russian team was one of the underdogs for many fans and media ahead of the tournament in Poland and the Ukraine. But Russia has proved that one has to consider them as a serious team to pull one or two surprises at the championship.

When asked about the teams, which could turn into the surprise package of the UEFA EURO 2012, I had named the Russians to various media and experts. Dutchman Dick Advocaat took over the reins at the helm of the “Sbornaya” in 2010 and managed to turn the fortunes of the team, which had a disastrous time after the UEFA EURO 2008.

The Russians played a great tournament in 2008 and even stunned the Netherlands in the competition. Many players left Russia after the European Championship to join top European clubs. But most of them failed to adapt to the new circumstances in Western Europe and their personal crisis transferred to the Russian national team.

But things seem to be back on the right track this year. Almost all Russian internationals returned home to play in the SOGAZ Russian Football Championship and Advocaat has formed a strong squad, which easily went through the qualifiers for the UEFA EURO 2012.

The seasoned team led by skipper Andrei Arshavin has a strong tactical and technical foundation. Experienced players like Yuri Zhirkov and Konstantin Zyryanov are the backbone of the team, while youngster Alan Dzagoev has impressed with two goals in their first match against the Czech Republic.

The only weakness of the team could be the age factor in combination with the low fitness level of some players. Russia could get in big trouble against pacy teams like the Netherlands or Germany.

But the Russians have set an odour signature with a 4-1 win against the Czech Republic and I would like to advise everyone not to underestimate the Russians. The “Sbornaya” has the potential to go a long way in the tournament and they might even pull a major surprise! So watch out – The Russians are coming!

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EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE of the UEFA EURO 2012 LIVE from the heart of Europe!
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