Euro 2012 - Nation Profile: Russia
European Championship winners – 1960
Following the break up of the old Soviet Union, Russia played their first match as an independent national team in August 1992 – a 2-0 win v Mexico. In their near 20 year history as a single team, Russia’s fortunes have fluctuated considerably, having been as high in the FIFA rankings as 3rd (1996) but as low as 40th (1998).
Strong, industrious and with the technical ability to match, Russia are not a team to be taken lightly. They may not boast any contenders for the ballon d’or but they qualified for Euro 2012 with an impressive 23 points from 10 games.
Plus, with the games being held in Poland and the Ukraine, the familiar conditions will surely help Russia in their quest to become European champions again – 52 years after their last win.
Known as ‘The Little General’ from his time working alongside ‘The General’ Rinus Michels with the Dutch national team, Advocaat has been a prolific coach since taking his first part-time job in 1981 – managing 13 different teams since then.
However despite managing 13 teams, Advocaat has enjoyed arguably the most romantic times of his career working in Russia, firstly with Zenit St Petersburg and currently with the Russian national team. Advocaat led Zenit to their first league title since the Soviet Union disbanded, winning the title in 2007 – alongside this he also led them to UEFA Cup (Europa league) glory in 2008, the UEFA Super Cup and the Russian Super Cup in the same year.
In July 2010 Advocaat was named manager of the Russian national team, succeeding his fellow countryman Guus Hiddink. Despite a home defeat to Slovakia in the first game of their Euro 2012 qualification campaign, Russia eventually topped the group and booked their place for Poland and the Ukraine. Advocaat will leave his post after the tournament, to take up a one-year position at PSV Eindhoven.
Roman Pavlyuchenko – Tall, exceptional movement and with incredible technique, Pavlyuchenko does not get the credit he deserves. Left to sit on the bench during most of his time at Tottenham Hotspur, ‘Pav’ certainly has an eye for goal – scoring some stunning goals in the Premier League before his move back to Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow.
Since making his debut for Russia in 2003 (becoming a regular from 2005 onwards) Pavlyuchenko has scored 20 goals in 45 appearances and having been included in the squad for Euro 2012, is sure to add to his goal tally.
Andrei Arshavin – A man of diminutive stature but with the dribbling ability to turn a defence inside out and a crisp right foot, Arshavin has suffered a huge dip in form in the last 18 months. Having made his name as the main man of Zenit St Petersburg’s 2008 UEFA Cup winning side, Arshavin moved to Arsenal in January 2009.
After a largely impressive first 18 months -2 years during which time he scored four goals at Anfield and important goals against Manchester United and Barcelona – Arshavin’s formed dipped in 2011. It dipped to such a level that in February 2012, he was loaned back to Zenit in a bid to regain some form.
Captain of the Russian national team, Arshavin’s value to the team has never been in question and it would not come as a surprise if he showed just why he was so valued by Zenit this summer in Poland and the Ukraine.
Pavel Pogrebnyak – 6ft 3inch ‘Po The Great’ has proven himself to be a formidable striker – not least from his short time in the Premier League since signing for Fulham in January 2012. Tall, strong, opportunistic and with two good feet, Pogrebnyak became the fastest player to reach five Premier League goals when he did so in three games across February and March 2012.
Having scored on his debut for the Russian national team v Latvia in August 2006, he has since scored 8 goals in 31 appearances.
His outstanding form for Fulham since his transfer from VfB Stuttgart will have boosted Pogrebnyak’s confidence going in to Euro 2012 and will make him a player to watch.
Aleksandr Kokorin – 21 year old Kokorin is a 5ft 11 ½inch striker who can also play as a winger. Strong and technically sound, he became the youngest player to score a goal in the Russian Premier League when aged 17 years and 199 days he scored an equaliser for FC Dynamo Moscow on his debut against FC Saturn Moscow Oblast in October 2008.
Since his debut, he has scored nine times in 92 appearances for Dynamo and also made his debut for the national team in a game against Greece in November 2011. Kokorin has been named in Dick Advocaat’s squad for Euro 2012 and should he get on the pitch in Poland and the Ukraine, he is sure to make an impression.
International football tournaments being about the great (Three Lions '96) and the not so great (DJ Otzi) football songs...and a group called Stainless Steel have taken on Russia's entry for Euro 2012. 'SEXY GIRLS AND COOL FOOTBALL' is featured in the video above.