To put in bluntly, anyone connected with the Russian national team must be absolutely delighted and very optimistic about 2012 after being drawn in by far the weakest group of the tournament as Paddy Power report plenty of money on Russia to win Group A at 6/4.
Due to the ludicrous seeding of the groups put forward by UEFA, both hosts Ukraine and Poland were classed as first seeds and therefore have somewhat skewed the look of the set-out of the tournament. Some teams have suffered as a consequence, notably Holland and Portugal, who have been drawn along with Germany in a horrendously tough looking Group C.
But you won’t hear any complaints coming from the Russia camp. Led by the experienced Dick Advocaat, the Russians could well surprise a few in this year’s tournament.
They have landed a very weak group that consists of Greece, Poland and Czech Republic and in truth, it won’t take much winning.
Expect low scoring games in this group, with all sides likely to focus on keeping it tight at the back to rack up points rather than blow teams away with attacking flair. It’s for this reason why the watertight defence that Russia possesses should be enough for them to go through to the quarter-finals as group winners.
You can still get 6/4 (Paddy Power) on that occurrence to happen.
Russia’s defence played a major part in their qualifying campaign, conceding only four goals on their way to winning a group that they were entitled to win with some ease.
The news that influential CSKA Moscow centre-back Vasili Berezutski has been ruled out of the tournament isn’t ideal preparation, but Sergei Ignashevich and full-backs Aleksandr Anyukov and Yuri Zhirkov are underrated, experience players that should relish a competition of this nature.
Hopefully the charismatic Andrei Arshavin can find the same form that led his side to the semi-finals in Euro 2008 and put his differences with the Russian public aside, as attacking options of his calibre are thin on the ground in the Russian squad.
In Russia case defence could be the best form of attack. Keep it tight and their class should overpower the minnows to lead them to group glory.