A decent display in a relatively easy group in the qualifiers has seen Russia qualify for the Euro 2016 in France. They finished second in the group and were drawn alongside England, Wales and Slovakia and will have to be at their best to have a chance at qualification.
Russian fans will hope for a repeat of Euro 2008 display where their team was the most discussed team in the competition. While Russia lack the similar excitement of youth, however, they will be a hard team to get past.
On that note, we take a detailed look in to Russia’s predicted Euro 2016 journey and predictions for their run at this summer’s biggest footballing extravaganza.
Russia’s Euro 2016 Squad:
Manager: Leonid Slutski
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow), Yuri Lodygin (Zenit)
Defenders: Alexei Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Vasili Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Dimitri Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Neustadter (Schalke), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow), Roman Shishkin (Lokomotiv Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit)
Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Oleg Ivanov (Terek Grozny), Pavel Mamaev (Krasnodar), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Oleg Shatov (Zenit), Roman Shirokov (CSKA Moscow)
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Zenit), Alexander Kokorin (Zenit), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar), Dimitri Torbinski (Krasnodar)
Russia have sent the strongest possible squad to the competition with hardly any noticeable names missing from the final squad announced.
They have a number of match winners who can turn things around at tough times and Leonid Slutski will hope that he can get them all together to help the country qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition.
Artem Dzyuba – The in-form Zenit forward Artem Dzyuba will assume the most important role of scoring goals for his team in the competition in France.
He has already netted 8 times in the qualifying stages and has been hard to defend because of his skill and eye for goal. If he can be at his best, Russia are in with a great chance of qualifying from Group B.
Sergei Ignashevich – The veteran defender at 36-years of age is one of the most experienced players in the squad for Russia.
Even at his age, Ignasevich is an excellent defender who loves to dominate the opponents in his penalty box and will act as the backbone of the team in defense. Russia need him to put in some good performances to move into the knock-out stage.
Alexander Goloving – The CSKA Moscow starlet, Golovin has been one of the hottest properties in Europe in recent times.
He came into the squad as a surprise but went on to score 2 goals in his first three senior appearances for his country. At 19-years of age, Golovin is still learning the game but his ability with the ball will help Russia in tight situations.
With a squad full of mid-fielders to chose from, Slutski, the coach of the team will have selection headaches at that part of the team.
He has a few impact players who fit into his style of play in the middle of the park but the coach will have to get his formation and personnel right to get the better of the other teams in the group.
If the mid-fielders chosen side manages to retain the ball and create chances, Russia can become a force to reckon with in the competition.
England (June 11), Slovakia (June 15), Wales (June 20)
How far can they go?
As earlier mentioned, Russia have a plethora of talent specially in the mid-field area. They have proven to be hard to beat in recent times and if their offensive problems are taken care of, Russia has a chance to qualify beyond the group stages.
England is expected to top the Group B while Slovakia are the outsiders. Wales and Russia will have to fight it out for one spot and if Slutski gets his team selection right, Russia can easily go into the knock-out stage and may be even further.
Image Credit: Getty, Lineupbuilder