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Advocaat's two big calls

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012, 20.00CET
With a full complement of players to choose from for Friday's opener against the Czech Republic, Dick Advocaat still has two big decisions to make according Richard van Poortvliet.
by Richard van Poortvliet
from Wroclaw
 
 
Published: Thursday 7 June 2012, 20.00CET

Advocaat's two big calls

With a full complement of players to choose from for Friday's opener against the Czech Republic, Dick Advocaat still has two big decisions to make according Richard van Poortvliet.

Dick Advocaat said he has "a full squad to choose from" as Russia held their final training session before Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 game against the Czech Republic.

The 64-year-old gave very little away and also commented that the team "aren't feeling nervous" ahead of their opening game. There had been injury concerns about Igor Akinfeev, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Marat Izmailov, but all three seemed to move easily and without any noticeable problems.

The vast majority of the Russia team picks itself, but there are two positions that will give the Dutchman something to think over tonight. Perhaps the toughest is who will play in goal, with Akinfeev and Vyacheslav Malafeev two candidates who have both had to overcome adversity in recent times.

Fifteen months ago, Malafeev lost his wife in a car crash and was left to care for his two children alone. However, rather than let himself be overcome by grief, the FC Zenit St Petersburg keeper produced the form of his life and excelled for both the national team and his club in the UEFA Champions League.

©Getty Images

Dick Advocaat addresses his squad during training on Thursday

Although Akinfeev hasn't had to deal with anything near the trauma that his colleague experienced, the PFC CSKA Moskva keeper has had to battle back from a cruciate knee ligament injury. He only returned to first-team action six weeks ago and he certainly knows he's got a fight on his hands to regain his position as Russia's No1.

The other quandary for Advocaat is who to play on the right-hand side of attack, with Alan Dzagoev, the incumbent, up against Izmailov. Dzagoev was Russia's joint top scorer in qualifying, but the 21-year-old only recently recovered from a broken bone in his foot and is now under pressure from a rejuvenated Izmailov. The Sporting Clube de Portugal winger is no stranger to injuries himself, though he has battled back to full fitness and was impressive in his country's warm-up games after six years in the international wilderness.

It's a nice headache for Advocaat to have going into the game with the Czech Republic and he has the luxury of knowing that whoever he chooses is likely to cause their opponents a number of problems.

Last updated: 26/06/12 4.13CET

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