Both sides will be seeking victory in this one as they prepare to start off their European Championships adventure with a bang in Group A.

Team News 

Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is 50/50 with a knee problem so Zenit's Vyacheslav Malafeev will be ready and alert if he gets the nod to come in as a replacement.

Marat Izmailov and Alexander Anyukov have battled against their respective niggles and are available to participate if needs be.

There is only one piece of injury news for the Czech Republic as striker Milan Baros is a doubt and didn't train with the squad on Wednesday.

Tomas Necid or Tomas Pekhart are the likely favourites to step in for the former Liverpool player if he missed out.

Match Preview

This is set to be quite an interesting encounter as two very capable teams, roughly of the same level, go face to face. Both with one aim: to proceed past the group stages. Russia had a dazzling qualifying run as they topped their qualifying group on 23 points, finishing just ahead of Ireland. They'll also be pleased to know that they've won the Championships once, finished runners up three times and been semi-finalists on two occasions. All this since the competition began in 1960.

So the Russians are certainly in no need of confidence as they head into tournament, and they are placed in a group that they can realistically win. Obviously anything can happen in football, but surely they'll fancy their chances against Greece, hosts Poland and Czech Republic, who are probably the better of the lot along with Advocaat's men.

In the last European Championship, in 2008, Russia finished in the semi-final. And how the national team and fans would love to reach the same stage of the competition again this time around. There are high hopes and aspirations for the national side, even more so when you consider the fact they have a series of world class players included in their squad.

Much will be relied on the captain and heartbeat of the team, Andrei Arsharvin, as he creates most of the attacking threat and an ever-present, prominent figure in that Russian midfield. We also must not forget former Chelsea defender Yuri Zhirkov, CSKA Moscow playmaker Alan Dzagoev, Fulham star Pavel Pogrebynak or ex-Tottenham frontman Roman Pavlyuchenko - these are all players who can hurt teams and have the capacity to manufacture something out of nothing.

For Czech Republic, well they also endured a successful qualifying campaign as they secured second spot in a group dominated by World and European champions Spain. Like Russia, the national side have done well in the Euro's having bagged the cup once, finished runners up in 1996 and finished semi-finalists three times.

The side's manager Michal Bilek, who hasn't had the easiest of times as boss with the Czech media since arriving in 2009, has a healthy group of players to select from ahead of this game and for the duration of the event. It may not be the illustrious squad of Euro 96 or 2004, but it's a clever and efficient one at that.

In goal, they have Chelsea stopper Petr Cech, and then in defence Bilek can choose from Tomas Sivok, Daniel Pudil, Roman Hubnik, Theodor Gebre Selassie - the first black player to play for Czech Republic - or Michal Kadlec, who was the team's top scorer in qualifying. In midfield, there is plenty of talent. Petr Jiracek, Tomas Hubschman and Arsenal star Tomas Rosicky are all special players who can provide width and assists for the likes of Tomas Pekhart, Tomas Necid and, if fit, Milan Baros.

The main problem in qualifying for Bilek's men was goals. The side's left-back Kadlec ended up being the top scorer with four strikes, all from the spot. Strikers Pekhart, of Nuremburg, and Necid, of CSKA Moscow, need to step up to the challenge and be able to cope with the magnitude of this major competition. Baros, likewise, needs to improve on his one goal in seven outings in qualifying. The defence is solid and disciplined, so it's all down to the attack.


Russia. With Advocaat in charge, you should expect the same old faces. Due to a shortage of fresh, young talent filtering through - the Russians will be forced to field the likes of Kerzhakov, Denisov and Shirkov in a offensive 433 system. The midfield possesses three ball-winning, aggressive players while the attack will be the main area of danger for opposition teams with Arsenal's Arsharvin and CSKA's Dzagoev two splendid, skilful individuals that will supply the ammo for Kerzhakov to fire with. Expect a safe style in defence and midfield, with a bit of flair and imagination up top. Key player: Andrei Arsharvin.

Czech Republic. As so many modern teams do nowadays, the Czech Republic will start with a 4231 formation that will allow support for the lone striker Baros, if fit, with Plasil and Rezek contributing width to their play. Rosicky, so polished and tidy as a footballer, will be the driving force who will pull the strings in the centre. Meanwhile, expect Hubschman and Jiracek to hold in midfield and the backline to stay tight with the full-backs bombing on when necessary. Key player: Tomas Rosicky.


Russia 2-1 Czech Republic. I feel Russia will just edge this once with Arsharvin netting a brace. Czech Republic will be short of added quality and goals will no doubt we hard to come by.