Euro 2012 Social Match Preview: Russia v Czech Republic - Russians go into opening day fixture as heavy favourites
With all the world's football eyes likely to be on Euro 2012's opening day fixture between co-hosts Poland and Greece, the late kick-off between Russia and the Czech Republic in Wroclaw has drawn less media attention but promises to be no less of a spectacle.
The Russians should be the most confident about progressing from Group A. They have the same core of players who took them so thrillingly to the semi-finals four years ago. Tonight in Wroclaw they face the Czech Republic, and coach Advocaat was upbeat about his side yesterday.
"We have a good team, we have the quality," Advocaat said. "It is very important that the players start believing in that. So, yes, if we have the form and everything is going the right way, we have a very dangerous team."
With no injury worries, Russia should be at their cohesive best tonight. Virtually the whole Russian team is drawn from Zenit St Petersburg or CSKA Moscow, and midfielder Roman Shirokov – of Zenit – said yesterday that the team had no outstanding individual. "I don't think we have one key player," Shirokov said, "but lots of good ones. There's no one leader in the side."
With Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky, the Czechs have their own core of experience and Advocaat praised their unity. "The Czech Republic work very hard for one another," he said, "and also have some good individuals."
Andrei Arshavin, who could dazzle if he finds his 2008 form, knows Russia will have to work hard to score. "Czech Republic have a strong defence," he said. "Plus, their goalkeeper is Petr Cech, who is capable of dealing with all the sins of their defence."
Meanwhile, PaddyPower are giving the Czech's dour hopes in the fixture tonight and are offering money back on bets if they triumph over Russia: http://www.paddypower.com/football/?btag=10065560_42694891&AFF_ID=10065560 with football pundit Stan Collymore agreeing with that sentiment and tweeting his predictions: "Russia 2 Czech Republic 0 LIVE(7:45pm @talkSPORT)."
To watch Russia Vs Czech Republic FIFA 12 Highlights (including terrible commentary) see the YouTube video from FourSwordsOneCup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VISzzXbeQyY
And in other news, it has been revealed that England's Premier League referee top-dog Howard Webb will be officiating the match, to which @paddypower jokingly tweeted: "Howard Webb is reffng the Russia Czech Republic game this Friday. My money is on Man Utd. #Euro2012"
3 Consecutive opening-game losses by hosts at European Championships - Portugal (2004), Austria and Switzerland (2008)
Russia commence their Euro 2012 quest unbeaten in their last 14 games, culminating in the 3-0 win over Italy on Friday
Russia have the oldest forwards in the tournament with an average age of 30, in stark contrast to England (23) and Poland (24)
The Czech Republic's Milan Baros was top scorer at Euro 2004 in Portugal with five goals - no player has won the Golden Boot twice in European Championship history
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