5 things about Russia ahead of Euro 2016

2016-06-08 08:02
Dmitriy Kombarov (Getty Images)

Moscow  - Five things about Russia ahead of the European Championship finals where they are in Group B with England, Wales and Slovakia.


Russia's prospects heading into the tournament have not been helped by injury problems in midfield. Igor Denisov of Dynamo Moscow withdrew from the squad on Monday with a hamstring injury, his place being taken by Artur Yusupov of Zenit St Petersburg. Yusupov got the call after he happened to be staying in the same hotel as the Russian squad in Monaco while on holiday. Russia had already lost Alan Dzagoev after the influential CSKA Moscow midfielder fractured a bone in his foot.
Fifth time lucky?

The Soviet Union won the European Nations Cup in 1960 in France. But the tournament in France will be modern Russia's fifth European Championship finals since 1996. They have only got past the group stage once however, in 2008, and what a tournament they had. Beaten 4-1 by Spain in their opening group match, Guus Hiddink's side bounced back to beat holders Greece and Sweden to set up a quarter-final against the Netherlands. They won 3-1 in extra-time and then had to play Spain again. They lost 3-0 against a Spanish side establishing a crushing dominance of world football.


Albert Shesternyov, nicknamed 'Ivan the Terrible' by opponents and widely regarded as the best defender in the Soviet Union era, went to two European Championship finals and suffered a rare piece of bad luck at the second in 1968. The Soviet Union reached a semi-final against hosts Italy and the match ended 0-0 after extra time. The rules then dictated that the result had to be decided by the toss of a coin. Shesternyov called and lost. The Soviet side then lost to England in the third-place play-off.


Russia start their Euro 2016 campaign against England in Marseille. The two countries have played twice before in Euro qualifying for the 2008 finals. England won 3-0 at Wembley before 86,000 people on September 17, 2007 with Michael Owen scoring twice. One month later Roman Pavlyuchenko scored twice as Russia claimed a revenge 2-1 win before 84,700 people at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and eventually took second place in the group ahead of England. England failed to qualify and manager Steve McClaren was sacked.


Russia has returned to a Russian coach after a decade of experiments with foreign managers. It started with Guus Hiddink from 2006 to 2010. Hiddink was inspirational in getting Russia to the 2008 European Championship finals. They lost 2-1 to Israel but did beat England and were then less bad than England, who lost 3-2 at home to Croatia. Hiddink, however, quit after Russia failed to reach the 2010 World Cup finals. Another Dutchman, Dick Advocaat, then took over. Russia started their qualifying campaign for Euro 2012 with a home defeat to Slovakia but then topped their group.

Advocaat left after the Euro 2012 campaign - Russia failed to get past the group stage at the finals losing 1-0 to Greece in their last game. Fabio Capello of Italy then took over on a contract reported to be worth $10 million a year. He took Russia to the World Cup finals in 2014, their first for 12 years. But they did not win a match and failed to get past the group stage. His weighty contract was terminated last year as Russia struggled in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. Russia then won four games in a row under Slutsky to qualify.


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