Euro 2016 Group B

Russia

11 June - England (8pm GMT, Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
15 June - Slovakia (2pm GMT, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille)
20 June - Wales (8pm GMT, Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse)

Russia have been handed a tough draw for Euro 2016, but could surprise a few if they were to replicate their semi-final finish in 2008, writes George Rinaldi.

From Russia with Love

Although the aforementioned semi-final feat is nigh on-impossible, the Russians have had the forward momentum going into this summer's tournament, winning their final four Group G games to finish as runners-up. They'll be looking to partner England though the Group stages, despite having to tackle both Wales and Slovakia for qualification.

Coach: Leonid Slutsky — Slutsky is a newcomer to the national dugout, having joined in 2015 alongside an ongoing seven-year stint with CSKA Moscow. He won all his qualifying matches.  

Preferred XI: Akinfeev; Kuzmin, Berezutski, Ignashevich, Kombarov; Dzagoev, Denisov; Kokorin, Shirokov, Shatov; Dzyuba.

Despite focusing on a 4-4-1-1 style for the most recent friendlies, Slutsky has adopted a more central attack-minded 4-2-3-1, allowing less focus on the wings and a more direct tactic when going forward.

Look out for: The focus on possession. Russia like to play the ball around and thus the midfield duo of Alan Dzagoev and Igor Denisov are the key figures. Two players who may appear to have been around for a while are vital to their success. Linking the defence to the four-man attack is the usual adopted style, allowing them to dominate the centre of the pitch.  

Did you know?

  • Russia conceded the same amount of goals and scored one less than Group G winners Austria, yet finished eight points behind.
  • Current coach Slutsky has the best win percentage of any Russian boss both pre and post Soviet Union.
  • Hot shot Artyom Dzyuba is currently averaging a goal every two games.


Russia versus…

…England P 2 W 1 D 0 L 1 F 2 A 4
…Slovakia P 8 W 3 D 3 L 2 F 7 A 6
…Wales P 4 W 3 D 1 L 0 F 6 A 2

Stats

Population: 143.5m
Nickname: Sbornaya
Calcio fans might remember: Igor Shalimov - Foggia (1991-92), Inter (1992-94), Udinese (1995-96), Bologna (1996-1998) and Napoli (1998-99)
Top Division: Russian Premier League
FIFA World Ranking: 27.
International honours: European Championship, 1960 (As USSR)
Most capped player: Sergei Ignashevich (114)
Leading international scorer: Olegh Blokin (42 for Soviet Union); current - Aleksandr Kerzhakov (30)
Russia at the European Championships:

1960 - Champions - as USSR
1964 - Final- as USSR
1968 - Semi-finals - as USSR
1972 - Final - as USSR
1976 - Did not qualify
1980 - Did not qualify
1984 - Did not qualify
1988 - Final - as USSR
1992 - Group Stage - as CIS
1996 - Group Stage
2000 - Did not qualify
2004 - Group Stage
2008 - Semi-finals
2012 - Group Stage

How they got to Euro 2016: Russia finished runners-up in Group G to Austria.