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UEFA Euro 2012 odds and betting - Group A - Russia

By howtobet on March 23, 2012 in Betting Guide

In our previous UEFA Euro 2012 odds article we focused on general UEFA Euro 2012 matters as well as odds betting related issues. We also took a look at host nation Poland and their chances in the tournament. Look up that article here: UEFA Euro 2012 Odds - Group A - Poland

This article is all about Russia. Throughout the modern football era they have fostered players such as legendary keepers; Lev Yashin and Rinat Dasaev. Oleg Blokhin, Eduard Streltsov and Igor Belanov should also be mentioned in this context.

Russian football then and now

Although Russian culture is old, Russia as a nation can be said to be new. Football in the Soviet Union era was a success story. They won the first UEFA European Championship in 1960, were runner up in 1964 and 1972. In 1968 they got fourth and in 1976 they ended up in the quarter finals. The Soviet team never progressed further than 4th in the FIFA World championships, but claimed two Olympic gold medals in the Olympics as well as three bronze medals between 1956 and 1988.

After the fall of the Union the trophy cabinet hasn’t exactly been filled to the brink, but a respectable third was picked up in 2008 when Austria and Switzerland cohosted the event.

Russian football today is a money honey pot. Over the last few years we have seen CSKA Moscow, Zenit St. Petersburg (Owned 95% by energy giant Gasprom), Rubin Kazan and others challenge for glory in European competition. Quality players seriously consider options in Russia these days when they go abroad. Anzhi Makhachkala is a decent example of that having picked up former Barcelona and Inter Milan hit man Samuel Et’o among others. There can be no doubt that Russian football is in progress, and on a way to a better place. The question is: Will the club success rub off on the National team. The answer, we think is yes. The 3rd they got in the last UEFA Euro championship was a clear indication of that. They may not have had the toughest group of that championship but they didn’t have an easy ride either. They had to beat Holland in the quarter finals, and then finish of a well playing Turkey for the second time in the tournament in the battle for third. Since 2008 their domestic league has kept on improving, and Russia has a home-based squad full of talent available.

Qualifying for the UEFA Euro 2012

Russia qualified on top of qualifying group B to win participation. Russia overcame Ireland, Armenia, Slovakia, Macedonia and Andorra, losing only one game in the process. In the 10 qualifying games only 4 goals were let in. In a game leading up to the UEFA Euro 2012 Russia recently beat Denmark 2-0 in Parken and they could have won by more. As of now they are unbeaten in 11 games.

We expect lots of Russians to take the trip over to Poland to watch the group games. Also, a lot of Russians live in Poland, so support should be fierce. This is undoubtedly a plus

UEFA Euro 2012 Odds

Priced at around 20 times the money for winning the whole thing one can't take action even if they managed a 3rd place last time around. As the Championship gets closer and people start loading up on Spain, Germany, England and Holland we might change our mind as the odds might get juicier. We would definitely look into Russia as group winners or to progress to Quarter final odds.

UEFA EURO 2012 Russian Team Sheet

In general, looking at the team and their most recent starts anyone who doesn’t follow Russian football will find it hard to figure out where this team stands. The players that coach Dirk Advocaat looks to call up are all from the Russian Premier League. Ok, Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhirkov and Roman Pavlyuchenko are known for their spells in the more famous Premier League in England. As of right now; the only “big name” outside of the Russian Premier League considered is Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The Russian Defense

Letting in only four goals in ten qualifying matches is no easy feat even if one of the opponents were Andorra. Obviously this means The Little General; Advocaat has some real skilled defensive players in his arsenal. Advocaat is known as one of the more cautious Dutch coaches, and hasn’t always been enjoying pats on the back from fans and board members over his tactical dispositions even if the results have been more than acceptable. That said; in Russia he seems to thrive and since Gus Hiddink left the helm he has brought them forward in good style.

Aleksandr Anyukov is likely to field on the right side of the defense, and he is no light weight either. Anyukov is Team Captain at formidable Zenit St. Petersburg and an overall excellent player with plenty of routine. Roman Shishkin can cover on either side of the defensive flanks or the defensive midfield role. He is a solid player for Lokomotiv Moscow who has had a really good season in 2011/2012.

Obviously Yuri Zhirkov, may occupy the left back slot. He may also be found on the left hand side of the offense. He is good at going forward and stable in his defensive role. He didn’t get an awful lot of playing time in Chelsea, but with Ashley Cole dominating at the time, that was expected. Zhrikov can also do a good job in defensive midfield, where Roman Shirokov is expected to play. Shirokov was made a scapegoat out of Russia’s lackluster opening game in the Euro 2008 versus Spain and didn’t really redeem himself until 2010. Since then he has gained a solid reputation. Shirkov is also a very versatile player himself and can switch from defense to offense in a heartbeat when called upon.

Sergei Nikolaievich Ignashevich, is a CSKA bauta with bags of routine, skill and an eye for goal. His role is as Central defender, and he might get game time come this championship. He is currently aged 32 so this is likely his last tournament. For a Central defender his touch is silky and one can’t help wonder why thing guy hasn’t been playing regularly in a bigger league.

The twin brothers Aleksei and Vasili Berezutskiy of CSKA are also worth mentioning. They can both play in wide positions or centrally. Their versatility adds plenty of options to this Russian side, and it helps that they are excellent footballers.  Another player with versatility is Renat Yanbayev. Again, this is a player who can cover either defensive flank or play a defensive midfield role. He is currently plying his trade for Lokomotiv Moscow.

The keeper position belongs to either Vladimir Gabulov from big spenders Anzhi, Igor Akinfeev of CSKA and  Vyacheslav Malafeev of Zenit. These keepers are all excellent, and Advocaat has a luxury problem selecting one of them for a starting birth. Malafeev has played the most out of these three and is likely to get the nod again.

Defensive round up

What springs to mind is the great versatility of the Russian defensive players. Add to this that many have really quick feet and good footballing brains and you can really understand why they have been keeping Malafeev bored between the goal posts. That they also often play with two holding midfielders who also are also capable of pushing forward makes the Russian defensive setup impressive.

The Russian Central and Attacking Midfield

Konstantin Zyranov is an aging, but highly versatile player from Zenit. This is definitely his last tournament for Russia. He is solid as a defensive anchor; he can go forward and score goals from his defensive position, or he can be utilized in a more offensive role need be. He can even cover in the center of defense.

Igor Denisov is a reliable central midfielder from Zenit. He can also be counted on in a defensive role. He was called up for the 2008 squad but actually turned the call down. If he is called upon this time, don’t expect another turn down. Denis Glushakov is currently at Lokomotiv Moscow and is a bit and parts player for the National team. That said; he does get quite a bit of playing time. This is due to his versatility. He can take a defenisive, offensive or attacking role. When he plays he is usually deployed centrally.

Alan Dzagoev of CSKA is a young guy who we all will hear more off in the future. Reportedly he has turned down Real Madrid, so the potential is obvious. Again we are talking of a very versatile player who can take a central, offensive or winger position. He also has an eye for goal and is a joy to watch when he has his day.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is another attacking minded player who can play to the left, right or in an advanced attacking position. As all the other Russians he is very versatile, and he has even been getting playing time in the National side defense. He plays for Spartak Moscow now after returning from Everton where he had a moderately successful spell.

Dmitry Torbinskiy is a pacy winger from Lokomotiv Moscow who might get a surprise nod as Lokomotiv has had a great season. His blistering speed and excellent crosses might yield him a place in the squad.

Vladimir Bystrov is another pacy winger who should be counted on if called upon. He can also take a second striker role or any other offensive midfield role. Jeered by his own Zenit supporters for a spell at Spartak life hasn’t been easy, but his speed is worldwide known and his dribbling skills make him a tough opponent for any defense.

We have to mention Andrey Arshavin here obviously as well. Usually he takes the left side of the Russian attack. You can define him as an advanced winger who can play on either side or a drifting centre forward. Falling down the pecking order at Arsenal saw the undoubtedly skilled Russian return home. He currently plays for Zenit (on loan from Arsenal). He is the captain of the Russian side.

Midfield sum up

The Russian can play very attack minded or very defensively. They got skills in all departments. Add to this that the players are exceptional at controlling the ball and moving. If they decide to switch to counter attack mode they got pacey players. If they want to play possession they got the players for that too. The midfield looks complete from our view point. They may lack a couple of “big names”, but beware; these guys are not second class.

Russian attackers

Roman Pavlyuchenko is known for his time at Tottenham where he couldn’t get things going for him. In January 2012 he returned to Russia and Lokomotiv Moscow. He is strong in the air and can strike the ball well.

Pavel Pogrebnyak is perhaps a unknown for many. He had a very tough time in German Stuttgart but was transferred to English Club Fulham who has seen the Russian score 5 goals in his first 4 matches (at the time of writing). At 6ft3 (1.90) he obviously has a thing or two going for him in the air. He also is a great striker of the ball as well. Just look here: A super strike that even Roberto Carlos would applaud. Add to this that he seems very composed and focused 1 on 1 with keepers and in tap in situations and you just can't help feeling that Fulham have found a winner here.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov is pouring in the goals for Zenit, and doing a good job also for the National side. He had a spell with Sevilla in 2007, but found playing time hard to get. At the time Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute were on fire, so he must have cursed his luck at that point in time.

Artem Dzyuba is a young man making a name for himself. He is the property of Spartak Moscow and has been a regular at U21 level for Russia. He was recently given a trial in the A side. At 6ft4 (1.93) he is likely to be strong in the air, but don’t rule him out on the ground either. His touch is excellent and he can play ball better than most. He prefers playing up front but can also take on positions on the flanks. He is definitely one for the future.

Attacking sum up

This is perhaps the big question mark and the weak link in this team. A top notch striker would have made them a bigger threat, but make no mistake about it: On their day this Russia attack has a lot to offer. They also get excellent support from all over the pitch, so opposition defenses will be stressed.

Final sum up

Russia will have a lot of support from the stands and the team has a good mix of young and old talent. Talent that is highly versatile and can play ball it must be added. If they can maintain their best level they should advance from Group A either as first or second.  The first real challenge would then manifest itself in the quarter final where Portugal, Germany or Holland would be the likely opposition.

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