Monday, 23 June 2008

Euro 2008. Russia reach the semis.

Another day, another post about a Russian triumph in Euro 2008. On this occasion Guus Hiddink’s side defeated the manager’s home nation, the Netherlands, 3-1 after extra time. Sean’s Russian Blog carries the ubiquitous Youtube video of well-healed young Muscovites hanging out of expensive cars waving Russia’s flag and various containers of alcohol.

They can be forgiven an excess of enthusiasm, because their side looked genuinely world class on Saturday. Although the Dutch were disappointing, Russia’s relentless waves of attack, getting both midfielders, and those rampaging full backs forward, looked irresistible at times.

Despite this adventure the Russians nevertheless managed consistently to get enough men back to defend in depth when necessary. And all the while, their best efforts were orchestrated by the clever, subtle talents of Andrei Arshavin. He really is a wonderful little player to watch. He reminds me a little of Jari Litmanen.

Russia now faces Spain in the semi-finals and on the strength of their performance against Holland they should not fear Aragones side. The Spanish were unable to break down stultifying Italy in 120 minutes last night, eventually relying on a penalty shoot-out to progress. Although Spain have a galaxy of star players, Russia really are the form team of this tournament.

On a personal level I am beginning to get a little anxious about the prospects of an airport transfer we have arranged for Moscow next Sunday night materialising, should Russia be involved in the final that evening!

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