Team Preview: Russia

FIFA Ranking: 11

Euro history: Russia were a dominant force is Europe in the 1960s. They were the champions in 1960 and finished as runners-up in 1964. They also placed second in 1972 and 1988. Russia found more success in 2008. They reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champions Spain. Russia’s most impressive result in Euro 2008 was defeating the red-hot Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

How they qualified: Russia won Group B and only gave up four goals in ten matches. They finished ahead of the Republic of Ireland, Armenia, Slovakia, Macedonia and Andorra.

Group information and schedule: Russia is in Group A with Czech Republic, Poland and Greece. All three group matches will be played in Poland.

June 8 vs. Czech Republic in Wroclaw

June 12 vs. Poland in Warsaw

June 16 vs. Greece in Warsaw

Early roster thoughts: Russia’s provisional squad only has two players that don’t play their club soccer in Russia. Midfielder Marat Izmailov plays for Sporting in Portugal and forward Pavel Pogrebnyak is employed by Fulham. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is solid between the pipes. Defender Yuri Zhirkov (Chelsea), and forwards Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal) and Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham) all have played for EPL clubs in London in the last 12 months. All three went back to Russia to get consistent playing time to prepare for Euro 2012.

How they will do: Russia has the most talented team in Group A. If they play like they did in qualifying they should win this group.

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