We won’t lower ourselves to (can’t think of any) jokes about the European economy but suffice it to say Greece are in a similarly desperate position as they head into their final group match. Only a win can see them through to the knock-out stages and Group A leaders Russia look unlikely to oblige. The Russians may need only a point to ensure qualification but they’re determined to add to their current tally of five goals in two games.
“Of course a draw with Greece will also put us into the knockout stage but we should win and stay in Warsaw (for our quarter-final match),” says striker Roman Shirokov, “any other result will be unacceptable.” Goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev agrees: “We need to forget that a draw will put us into the knockout stage and score: once, twice – as much as we can.”
Having said that, most of Russia’s goals came in their 4-1 drubbing of the Czech Republic – they only managed a 1-1 draw with Poland. So did Greece – and that after having a goal disallowed for offside and a penalty saved – so maybe there’s still a chance…
ONE TO WATCH: Russia’s Andrey Arshavin. Look out for his stuttering, weaving runs and owlish appearance.
ONE TO MISS: Russia’s Alexander Kerzhakov. Kerzhakov hit a European Championship record of seven off-target strikes in Russia’s first game against the Czech Republic and spurned several opportunities against Poland too. He’s likely to make way for former Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.
PREDICTION: It would be lovely to think Greece could cause an upset but… Greece to leave the Euro zone, Russia to go through top of Group A: 3-1 Russia.