Dick Advocaat has warned his Russia squad against complacency, insisting improvements still need to be made to the defensive side of their game before their UEFA EURO 2012 Group A opener against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw on Friday.
Confidence is high after Russia followed up their impressive qualifying campaign with an eye-catching 3-0 defeat of Italy in Zurich last week, yet Advocaat is urging his troops to keep their feet on the ground. "We still have to improve defensively as we gave too many chances away against Italy," said the Dutch coach, speaking at his first press conference since arriving in Warsaw. "We created a lot at the other end but we have to be sharper at the back."
The superb triumph over the Azzurri came on the back of less impressive draws against Uruguay and Lithuania, but Advocaat is not reading too much into those results. "We have to be realistic and acknowledge the Italy game was only a friendly," the 64-year-old stressed. "Hopefully scoring three times against Italy – a team full of stars – will give us confidence. But I have watched the game again and if we do not improve on some things then we could be in trouble against the Czech Republic, Poland and Greece."
A semi-finalist as coach of the Netherlands in 2004, Advocaat believes it will be difficult to emulate that achievement this time round with Russia. He dismissed suggestions his side should be regarded as dark horses for the title and singled out his home nation, along with Germany and Spain, as clear favourites. The former FC Zenit St Petersburg coach was giving little away in terms of his team selection, although he did confirm that Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder Marat Izmailov would be fit.
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