Russia were one of the better clubs at the European Championships in 2008, reaching the semi-final before losing 3-0 to Spain in a match that was closer than the scoreline suggests.
Four years later and most of the squad which made that journey to third place are still regular features of the line-up. With some exciting new additions could Russia go at least one better this year?
FIFA Ranking: 11
Elo Ranking: 17
Best Performance at European Championships: Winners (1960, as USSR) Only four teams participated in the 1960 European Championship, but the USSR disposed of Czechoslovakia 3-0 in the first “semi-final”. They met Yugoslavia in the final, winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Slava Metreveli and Viktor Ponedelnik.
How they qualified: Winners of Group B Russia finished ahead of Republic of Ireland in Group B of the qualifiers. They were only defeated once during the process; a 1-0 slip-up at home to Slovakia.
The Boss: Dick Advocaat The Dutchman will be more familiar than many to a Scottish audience, particularly after his successful time in charge of Rangers at the turn of the Millennium. Learning his managerial trade under Rinus Michels, Advocaat took charge of the Dutch national team in 1992. He moved to PSV in 1995 and won the Eredivisie the following season. At Rangers he won the treble and the double before taking on a second term in charge of his country.
A disastrous spell at Borussia Monchengladbach was followed by two matches as head coach of the UAE and a year with South Korea. At Zenit St Petersburg he won the Russian league in 2007 and the UEFA Cup in 2008 before going back to international management with Belgium. He returned to his homeland with AZ and will take a second spell in charge of PSV after Euro 2012.
One to watch: Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow) The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has been a key feature of recent performances by Russia, and you can expect his name to be linked to any number of European powerhouses should they continue to perform. A quick-thinking playmaker, Dzagoev could be the star of the whole tournament, let alone this Russian side.
Likely line-up: For much of the qualifying Russia deployed out a fairly rigid 4-3-2-1 formation, which effectively picks itself. Igor Akifeev will start in goals, while Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Ignashevic, Aleksei Berezutski and Yuri Zhirkov will form an experienced defence. Zenit trio Konstantin Zyrianov, Igor Denisov and Roman Shirokov will form the basis of the midfield. Alan Dzagoev and Andrei Arshavin are generally deployed behind the main striker, where they are not short of options. Aleksandr Kerzakhov and Pavel Pogrebnyak are in contention but Roman Pavlyuchenko is most likely to start.
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