Russia, coached by veteran Dutchman Dick Advocaat, are in buoyant mood ahead of their opening Group A match against Czech Republic here tonight, after a morale-boosting friendly victory last Friday.
Advocaat’s side produced a vibrant attacking display to thump an out-of-sorts Italy 3-0 in Zurich leading expectations to flower in some quarters.
Russia were one of the revelations of Euro 2008 with their delightful attacking flair-filled play under the guidance of another Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, destroying Holland in the quarter-finals before losing in the semi-finals. And Russian captain Andrey Arshavin believes the Italy win proved Russia are ready to take on and beat the best. “The result of the friendly match with Italy boosted our fans’ hopes ahead of the championship’s start and all of our players also,” he said.
“However, for a long time we have believed our team is capable of playing at this level. Meanwhile, the Czechs have had to face quite a few problems in their preparations.
Before arriving at their base here in Wroclaw, traces of the potentially-deadly Legionella bacteria were found in their hotel, which needed to call in a disinfection company before Polish health inspectors gave it the all clear.
Their other major
concern is over the fitness of Galatasaray forward Milan Baros who limped out of training on Tuesday with a thigh problem. Captain Tomas Rosicky had been a doubt but he resumed full training on Monday following a calf problem.