We preview the second match of the Euro 2012 Championships, as Russia take on the Czech Republic in an epic battle in Group A.
If the first game of the Euro 2012 Championship was described as a fight to avoid the wooden spoon in Group A, the second match between the Czech Republic and Russia is very much a fight for the top spot in this section of the tournament.
Russia will be undaunted by their 11/10 favourites tag to win the group and with a host of quality players in their side, big things are expected from Dick Advocaat’s men. They face into this fixture against the Czech Republic as 11/10 favourites in the match betting, with the draw available at 11/5 and the Czech Republic 13/5.
Russia have performed well so far under the Dutch man Dick Advocaat’s reign. During their qualification for Euro 2012, the Russians won seven of their ten outings in Group F. It’s fair to say that this Russian side have a good mix of attacking and defensive strengths from what we’ve seen over the last year.
Having experienced pretty mediocre form in the Premier League, both Russia stars Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko have benefited from moves back to their domestic league and this should bring greater unity to a Russian side renowned for internal disputes.
The Czech Republic’s qualification for this summer’s tournament wasn’t as comfortable as the Russian’s passage, as they were forced to come through the play-offs but a comfortable 3-0 win over Montenegro sealed their spot at Poland/Ukraine.
Star player Tomas Rosicky has been a leading force for Arsenal in the Premier League this season and it’s no doubt that Michael Bilek will be expecting the midfielder to play a similar role within his national duty in June.
A number key player for the Czech Republic will be goalkeeper Petr Cech who will be eager to carry his recent good form into this massive encounter with Russia. Cech will need to put aside loyalty to club owner Roman Abramovich if he wants his side to make the knock-out stages of the tournament. Many would argue that at his best Cech is one of the world’s finest goalkeepers and he certainly proved this with the saves he pulled off against kingpins of European football Barcelona.
It’s a little concerning to see that the Czech Republic team are still very much reliant on the services of striker Milan Baros, who seems to have been around for as long as Bruce Forsyth! Of course there’s no arguing with his international record which boasts 40 goals from 86 caps for his country. The Russian defence will need to be on their toes for the duration of the 90 minutes, as the former Liverpool marksman needs very little space to create opportunities for his team.
In Russia’s last outing last February, they recorded a solid 2-0 victory over Denmark while the Czech Republic have been preparing for Euro 2012 with a game against the Republic of Ireland in which they drew 1-1.
In a strange move in April, Dick Advocaat the Russia head coach announced that he would be leaving his duties as their manager once the Euro 2012 tournament is over. How will this leave the players attitude towards their coach? Seldom in international football do you see such a strange announcement before a tournament as big as this summer’s event in Poland/Ukraine.
Advocaat commented recently saying: “After the European Championship, I’ll go,” the 64-year-old told Sport-Express. “I haven’t told the players yet, but I’m sure it won’t affect our preparation for the tournament. We will make every effort to have a successful campaign.
“I can’t tell you the reasons yet, but knowing about all the speculation, I’ll say right now it’s not about the money.”
Many would suggest that 11/10 is a little short for a battle that is so close but Russia have proved their credentials as Group A favourites during their journey to Poland/Ukraine. The speed of movement and awareness within their starting eleven will definitely cause major problems for the Czech Republic back four. Russia/Russia – Half Time/Full Time also offers some decent value at odds of 23/10. It’s hard to see where and how the Czech Republic team are going to find the resources to stop this Russian tide, so place your bet in a variation you like but make sure to place it on Russia.