Group B has an obvious favorite to win the group: England. Nevertheless, the three remaining teams are Slovakia, Russia and Wales, and Russia seems to be the strongest one. Slovakia and Wales are to dependent on Hamsik and Bale, respectively, and with such a great defensive team that Russia is, unlocking it looks unfeasible for them.
Match 1: England
Russian defensive line needs to be in its optimal condition to earn at least 1 point in a game against one of the strongest teams in the world. England’s attacking line is the strongest they’ve had in the last 10 years, thus this is surely going to be an interesting game: one of the best defensive lines will face a few of the greatest strikers in the world. In such cases, when best play versus best, coach’s genius comes in place. While Leonid Slutsky success in the Champions League was very volatile, last Roy Hodgson’s Champions League team was Inter Milan and he was not even coaching there (he used to be a caretaker). Lack of Champions League experience might turn out badly for Hodgson, Vardy and Kane; however, the most experienced Wayne Rooney can easily step in for his comrades to show them how to unlock tough locks.
Match 2: Slovakia
Russia will have to press high in this game as Slovakian defenders are too slow. Their best defender, Martin Skrtel, who is currently playing for Liverpool, hardly deserves a new contract at the club as he is getting old but, unlike Italian defenders, not gold. It is also the first Slovakian appearance at the Euro, thus I wouldn’t be surprised if Slovakia got scared of a more experienced opponent. On the other hand, Slovakia has nothing to lose: nobody expects them to win the tournament, so they might simply go there and enjoy their game.
Match 3: Wales
This game will probably decide who will make it to the play-offs. Gareth Bale is the most dangerous predator in Wales and he will be hunting for Russian goals. However, if Slutsky creates canny tactics that helps them draw the teeth of Bale, Wales will become unarmed. Closing Bale sounds very hard, but this game is the last in the group stage, so Slutsky will have time and replays of the first two Welsh games to create a better strategy.
How to cite this page: “Russia: Group Analysis and Match-Ups”, Written by Alikhan Mukhamedi(2016). European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/european-cup-2016-guide/underrated-teams-of-euro-2016/russia/russia-group-analysis-and-match-ups/ (accessed on (date)).