Russia sees Czech game as must-win
WARSAW - Agence France-Presse
(L-R) Russian players Konstantin Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavlyuchenko celebrate after scoring a goal against Italy during a friendly match. REUTERS photoRussian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko said yesterday if Russia is to have a chance of at least repeating its semifinal appearance at Euro 2008 in this edition it has to beat its opening opponents Czech Republic on June 8.
The 30-year-old Lokomotiv hitman, who ended an inconsistent four year spell at Premier League side Spurs in January with a transfer back home, said that it would not be an easy task to beat the Euro 2004 semifinalists but it was obligatory.
“We should win on Friday at any costs,” said Pavlyuchenko, who was one of their stars in 2008 scoring three goals. “We face a tough task to reach the Euro knockout stage. To achieve this goal we must win. Of course it will be tough as every European team now knows how to play quality football. But we must win this clash anyway.”
Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Roman Shirokov agreed that winning the opener was vital to the outcome of the team’s campaign.
“It’s not really important to repeat the result that we achieved against Italy (a 3-0 friendly win last Friday),” he said. “A lot depends on the opening match. The result may determine the entire campign.”
On the fitness front there was a double piece of good news for Dutch coach Dick Advocaat as midfielder Marat Izmailov and Zenit St Petersburg defender Alexander Anyukov declared themselves fit after missing the Italy game because of injury.