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Kerzhakov can come good

Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 19.30CET
Russia need only draw against Greece to progress but Dick Advocaat says they will go for the win and Richard van Poortvliet, for one, thinks Aleksandr Kerzhakov will help them get it.
by Richard van Poortvliet
from Warsaw
 
 
Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 19.30CET

Kerzhakov can come good

Russia need only draw against Greece to progress but Dick Advocaat says they will go for the win and Richard van Poortvliet, for one, thinks Aleksandr Kerzhakov will help them get it.

Sulejowek has been a home from home for Russia at UEFA EURO 2012. Most of the players have enjoyed training here, perhaps with the exception of Roman Shirokov, who complained in jest about the 30-minute journey to the base. However, I am sure even the FC Zenit St Petersburg midfielder would have no complaints about taking to that training pitch again on Sunday, as this would mean his country had qualified for the last eight.

Russia go into their final group game against Greece in a strong position. They lead their section with four points, and a draw would be good enough to see them qualify for the quarter-finals. If they manage to get all three points, they will finish top and extend their stay in Warsaw, rather than facing a potential trip to Gdansk, where they could take on Germany.

However, if Russia want to be playing in the Polish capital on 21 June, there are certain areas that have to be addressed, none more so than their finishing. It is this that will be causing Dick Advocaat the most concern ahead of that Greece encounter.

©Sportsfile

Aleksandr Kerzhakov is yet to find his scoring boots

The Dutchman described Greece as "dynamic and aggressive", while he also believes "Russia and Greece will both be playing to win". The 64-year-old, however, has to decide whether to stick with Aleksandr Kerzhakov in attack, or perhaps replace him with Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Zenit forward is yet to find the net at this tournament, with all ten of his shots off target.

By comparison, Mario Gomez of Germany has had six shots, four of which have been on target and yielded three goals. Statistics, though, don't always give a true impression of a player's worth to the team.

Of course Kerzhakov has been profligate, but his movement off the ball has been excellent, as has his link-up play with Andrey Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev, which caused the Czech Republic and Poland numerous problems. Despite his ineffectiveness in front of goal, I would be surprised if Advocaat was to replace Kerzhakov. The 29-year-old has been playing well, while his form for both club and country over the last year has been superb and I am sure he will find the back of the net sooner rather than later.

Last updated: 23/06/12 6.18CET

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