Territorially the largest country competing in Euro 2016, Russia are currently in a transition phase following their disappointing 2014 World Cup group phase exit, as well as moulding a team for the 2018 edition that they are hosting. Injury problems have been a huge hindrance though, as star men Alan Dzagoev and Denis Cheryshev will have to sit on the side-lines over the summer. They will of course face England in their opening Euro 2016 match.
Igor Akinfeev is a top class goalkeeper and was linked with some of the biggest clubs on the continent not too long ago, and he will look to improve the record he holds of most clean sheets in Russia’s history. The defence includes newly-crowned Russian League champions who are twins, in the form of Vasili Berezutski and Aleksei Berezutski. Russia conceded just five goals in ten qualification matches, so their defenders are definitely worth taking a look at.
The injuries have indeed particularly caused some problems in the midfield, but it is packed with bags of experience nonetheless. Igor Denisov and Roman Shirokov may know what it is like to play in the big games, but this does not necessarily transfer into the fantasy football points we all want. Oleg Shatov however did have a good season in Russia with eight goals and six assists.
Artyom Dyzuba is the main up front for Russia. He scored eight goals in qualifying and will look to be adding to that tally in the tournament itself. Furthermore, he bagged an impressive six goals in this season’s UEFA Champions League, despite his club Zenit St Petersburg exiting at the last 16 stage. His club teammate, Aleksandr Kokorin, is likely to start up front alongside him.
Written by Dean Ammi (@footywriterdean)
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