For the third UEFA European Championship in a row Russia face Greece in a group stage meeting and, with a quarter-final place on the line, Aleksei Berezutski is under no illusions about the test facing Dick Advocaat's side.
A draw at the National Stadium Warsaw will be enough for Russia to progress from Group A, but such is the situation in the section, Berezutski says his team will be taking nothing for granted against determined opponents. "It will be a very difficult game," the defender told UEFA.com ahead of Saturday's final pool match. "Every team has a good chance of getting out of the group, although we are in control of our own destiny."
Russia came out on top in the sides' EURO meetings in 2004 and 2008, but they were not so successful in their most recent encounter – a 1-1 friendly draw in Piraeus last November. "They are a good team and none of those matches were easy," said the PFC CSKA Moskva centre-back. "We beat them in 2008 but our friendly match in Greece ended in a draw. We probably played better and enjoyed most of the play, but the sides had the same amount of chances."
Advocaat's team have had few problems creating chances at this tournament, although their conversion of those opportunities has left something to be desired. However, they are also yet to keep a clean sheet having had the second-best defence in qualifying, conceding just four goals in ten games. "We would like to have kept a clean sheet," Berezutski, who has played in both games so far, added. "We are quite an attack-minded team and this will mean that we can be left open at the back, but we will always try to score more goals."
One of three CSKA players in the starting lineup, the 29-year-old forms a central defensive partnership alongside club-mate Sergei Ignashevich. With Yuri Zhirkov, who played for the Army Men until 2009, at left-back, there is a great understanding in defence. However, it is the name of another CSKA player that has been on everyone's lips since the start of the tournament – Alan Dzagoev. "He had a nasty injury but recovered really quickly and is now in great physical condition," Berezutski explained. "He has already scored three goals, is just a great professional and doing really well."
While Russia have made an encouraging start to UEFA EURO 2012, taking four points from their first two games, Berezutski has found himself in a strange position at the tournament – separated from his identical twin brother Vasili, who was ruled out through injury. "It is always harder without him. But I guess I've got used to it. Of course it would be better if he was here." Nevertheless, with Russia considered dark horses to go far in Poland and Ukraine, you get the impression Aleksei will not mind if he does not see his brother for a bit longer.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.