7th June, 2012
They may not be many peopleís favourites, but Russia are quietly confident they can make a splash at UEFA EURO 2012, with midfielder Igor Semshov warning: ìI donít think of us as outsiders.
Four years ago, Russia surprised almost everybody by powering their way through to the UEFA EURO 2008 semi-finals by playing a slick, attacking brand of football. Despite having retained many of the same players since then, however, they are once again attracting little attention as time ticks down on their opening Group A game against the Czech Republic on Friday.
Optimism reigns among Dick Advocaatís players, though, not least since they defeated Italy 3-0 in a warm-up match last Friday, and Igor Semshov considers his side to be opponents ìthat others should be nervous about coming up againstî.
He said: ìI think with every training session and every friendly game our game has got better and better. The coach knows perfectly what we still have to work on and what we can do better, so that we can start the first game in optimal form. The only thing that has changed is that we are more experienced; we have played more. Our team is 85 to 90% the same, so I think we will be even stronger than in 2008. In the last European Championship, we played a bit more modestly, and now weíve become faster. Football doesnít stand still; it changes all the time.