Russia playing an attack-minded style

Russia playing an attack-minded style

Published Jun. 7, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Dick Advocaat may be Russia's coach now, but he remains true to his Dutch roots.

His team plays the 4-3-3 system favored by the Netherlands since the halcyon days of Johan Cruyff in the 1970s, and he hopes to see that attacking style in his side's opening Group A match against the Czech Republic at the European Championship on Friday.

''We cannot change our way of playing,'' the 64-year-old coach said Thursday. ''That is our way of playing - a very attractive, attacking way, but we have to take into account the other team as well.''

Advocaat warned that his players may have to adapt to break down defensive teams which try to score on fast breaks.


''It is all about results,'' Advocaat said.

Advocaat's entire squad is fit for the match at Wroclaw's Municipal Stadium, meaning that first-choice goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has recovered from a flare-up of a serious knee injury.

His Russia squad is built around a core of 11 players who reached the semifinals at Euro 2008 to become one of the surprise packages of the tournament.

That has led to fears his players may be past their prime - Russia has the oldest forward line in the tournament - but Advocaat is not concerned.

''It is not about old, it's about how good they are - that's the most important thing in life, and we have some good players,'' he said.

Another fear is that Russia's players could have been worn down by a long domestic season, and Advocaat has ensured they have not been overworked in training since they arrived in Poland, having just one session each day.

''We have to be aware about the situation that this team played many, many games. Not just in Russia, but in international matches,'' he said.

One of the players who appears in great physical shape is forward Andrei Arshavin, whose electrifying performances for Russia four years ago earned him a transfer to Arsenal, although he returned this year to Zenit St. Petersburg on loan.

Friday's match will pit Arshavin against his Arsenal teammate Tomas Rosicky - both expected to captain their countries and wear the coveted No. 10 shirt.

''Of course, we've joked about this topic. I was saying that on 8 June, we'll both wear No. 10 on our backs and exchange handshakes there, on the pitch and so on,'' Arshavin said in an interview on UEFA's website. ''

''Tomas is indeed a very strong player and I think that in many national teams he would be a key player. He has a good overall awareness on the pitch; he plays well and is good at passing.''

Advocaat said he would pick his starting lineup on Thursday night and inform the players on match day.

It looks likely to include Akinfeev, the experienced CSKA Moscow `keeper who was sidelined for seven months following surgery to a cruciate ligament injury in his left knee.

The injury played up again this week and left a build-up of fluid on the knee, but the 26-year-old looked fit in training Thursday evening and will likely win his 53rd cap.

He will aim to not concede against a Czech attack containing striker Milan Baros, who also was declared fit on Thursday, two days after straining a muscle in training.

While the Czechs are rebuilding following the retirement of stars such as Jan Koller and midfielders Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Vladimir Smicer, the Russians are still wary of a team featuring the likes of Rosicky and goalkeeper Petr Cech.

''They have very good midfield players and a good team. We will be very cautious,'' said Russia midfielder Roman Shirokov.