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Russia will hope that lightning does not strike twice when they take on Spain for the second time at UEFA EURO 2008™ in their semi-final at Vienna's Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
• Guus Hiddink's team were well beaten by Spain in the teams' opening match of the tournament, going down 4-1 as David Villa struck a hat-trick in Innsbruck. With his three goals (20, 44, 75), Villa became the first player since 2000 to score a hat-trick on this illustrious stage before setting up the fourth goal for Cesc Fàbregas (90+1) after Roman Pavlyuchenko (86) had reduced the deficit.
• If it is little surprise that Luis Aragonés's Spain have steadily built on that victory to reach their first semi-final in 24 years, Russia's impressive turnaround since that false start was perhaps less easy to predict. Yet it continues Hiddink's commendable record at major tournaments, having never failed to take a team beyond the opening stage.
• After losing to Spain, Russia revived their hopes by defeating holders Greece 1-0 in Salzburg through a 33rd-minute goal by Konstantin Zyryanov. They then beat Sweden 2-0 in their decisive third group game, Pavlyuchenko (24) and Andrei Arshavin (50) scoring as Russia secured their passage to the last eight.
• Hiddink outmanoeuvred his native Netherlands in the quarter-finals, Russia beating the highly-fancied Dutch 3-1 after extra time in Basel last Saturday. Although Ruud van Nistelrooy (86) cancelled out Pavlyuchenko's 56th-minute opening goal, Dmitri Torbinski (112) and Arshavin (126) made sure of the victory in the closing stages of the additional period.
• Spain have gone from strength to strength since defeating Russia. They beat Sweden 2-1 in their second Group D outing, Villa scoring the winner two minutes into added time after Fernando Torres (15) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (34) had swapped goals. With that success, Spain secured first place in the section and they then maintained their momentum by defeating Greece 2-1 through another late strike, this time by Daniel Güiza two minutes from the end after Rubén de la Red (61) had cancelled out a first-half Angelos Charisteas effort.
• Spain strengthened the feeling that this might be their year by beating world champions Italy in Sunday's quarter-final in Vienna. No Spanish team had beaten Italy in a competitive fixture since 1920 but Aragonés's side laid to rest that hoodoo with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory after a goalless draw.
• After Iker Casillas had saved penalties from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale, Fàbregas stepped up to send Spain into the last four. Of Spain's four other takers, Villa, Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna all scored before Güiza was foiled by Gianluigi Buffon.
• This is the furthest Russia have travelled in a major tournament since the break-up of the Soviet Union, following four previous first-round exits in UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups.
• While it is Russia's best performance at the EURO as an independent nation, they reached the semi-finals five times as part of the USSR – in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1988. Their only defeat was against Italy in 1968 and that on the toss of a coin after a 0-0 draw.
• Hiddink lost his two previous semi-finals on the international stage. His Netherlands team went down 4-2 on penalties to Brazil after a 1-1 draw at the 1998 World Cup. Four years later, he fell a step short of the final for a second time when Korea Republic were beaten 1-0 by Germany.
• For Spain, Sunday's victory against Italy ended a sequence of five quarter-final defeats on the international stage, and ensured their passage to a third UEFA European Championship semi-final.
• Spain won their two previous semi-finals. In 1964 they beat Hungary 2-1 in Madrid, Amancio Amaro scoring the winning goal with five minutes of extra time remaining. Twenty years later, they defeated Denmark 5-4 on penalties in Lyon after Antonio Maceda's second-half goal had cancelled out an early Søren Lerby strike and taken the game to extra time.
• Spain lost the 1984 final to hosts France but lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy in 1964 when they beat reigning champions USSR 2-1 on home soil in Madrid. 'Chus' Pereda opened the scoring for Spain inside six minutes of the final at the Santiago Bernabéu and although Galimzian Khusainov drew the Soviets level two minutes later, Marcelino made sure of a home triumph with Spain's second goal after 84 minutes.
• This is the fourth time that two sides have met twice during the course of a UEFA European Championship final tournament. In 1988, the Netherlands lost their opening match 1-0 to the USSR but then beat the same opponents 2-0 in the final. Germany inflicted two defeats on the Czech Republic at the 1996 finals, winning 2-0 in their first match and then 2-1 in the final. Hosts Portugal suffered the same fate as the Czechs when they went down 2-1 to Greece in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2004™, and then lost 1-0 to Otto Rehhagel's team in the final.
• Spain are aiming for a hat-trick of victories against Russia on the European stage. In addition to their 10 June victory in Innsbruck, they also defeated the Russians in their opening game at UEFA EURO 2004™. Juan Carlos Valerón's 60th-minute effort earned Spain a 1-0 victory against a Russia side who finished with ten men following the 88th-minute dismissal of Roman Sharonov. Unlike now, both teams missed the cut for the quarter-finals four years ago.
• The sides for their meeting at the Estádio Algarve on 12 June 2004 were:
Spain: Iker Casillas, Carlos Marchena, Carles Puyol, Iván Helguera, Raúl Bravo, Joseba Etxeberria, David Albelda, Rubén Baraja (Xabi Alonso), Vicente Rodríguez, Raúl González (Fernando Torres), Fernando Morientes (Juan Carlos Valerón).
Russia: Sergei Ovchinnikov, Vadim Evseev, Aleksei Smertin, Roman Sharonov, Dmitri Sennikov, Evgeni Aldonin (Dmitri Sychev), Dmitri Alenichev, Rolan Gusev, Aleksandr Mostovoi, Marat Izmailov (Andrei Kariaka), Dmitri Bulykin.
• The sides for the Group D match earlier this month were:
Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Carlos Marchena, Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna, Andrés Iniesta (Santi Cazorla 63), Xavi Hernández, David Silva (Xabi Alonso 77), David Villa, Fernando Torres (Cesc Fàbregas 54).
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Roman Shirokov, Denis Kolodin, Yuri Zhirkov, Sergei Semak, Dmitri Sychev (Vladimir Bystrov 46; Roman Adamov 70), Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov (Dmitri Torbinski 58), Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Roman Pavlyuchenko.
• Russia have never beaten Spain, with the only other two encounters between the teams producing a 1-0 win for the Spanish in Granada in 1998 – Bittor Alkiza the scorer – and then a goalless draw in Albacete in 2006.
• However, Hiddink was the architect of a famous victory against Spain with the Korea Republic team he took to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup. The Dutchman's South Koreans held Spain to a goalless draw in the quarter-finals before prevailing on penalties.
• Hiddink knows Spanish football well, having held the reins at three clubs there: Valencia CF (1991-94), Real Madrid CF (1998/99) and Real Betis Balompié (1999/2000).
• At club level, Hiddink's PSV Eindhoven squad overcame Real Madrid on away goals in the semi-final of the 1987/88 European Champion Clubs' Cup. The following season, they surrendered their hold on the continental crown after a 3-2 aggregate defeat by Madrid in the quarter-finals.
• Russian internationals Aleksandr Anyukov, Arshavin, Vyacheslav Malafeev, Roman Shirokov and Zyryanov were in the FC Zenit St. Petersburg team that eliminated Spanish side Villarreal CF in the UEFA Cup Round of 32 in February. Zenit progressed on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw against a Villarreal outfit featuring Spain trio Joan Capdevila, Cazorla and Senna.
• As a player, Spain coach Aragonés was on the losing side for Club Atlético de Madrid against Russian outfit FC Spartak Moskva in the 1972/73 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. He scored in Atlético's 4-3 home defeat in the first leg and his team exited the competition on away goals following a 2-1 second-leg success.
• This is Russia's third EURO finals appearance as an independent nation and, in both 1996 and 2004, they went home after the group stage. As part of the former Soviet Union, they beat Yugoslavia 2-1 to win the inaugural UEFA European Championship and finished runners-up in 1964, 1972 and 1988.
• Spain are playing in their fourth successive EURO finals. They have missed only one final tournament (EURO '92) since the inception of the eight-team event in 1980.
• Russia have never previously contested a penalty shoot-out in a major tournament.
• Spain's shoot-out win against Italy was their third in six attempts. They beat Denmark 5-4 on penalties in the 1984 UEFA European Championship semi-finals but lost to Belgium in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals and to England at the same stage of EURO '96™. After beating the Republic of Ireland on spot-kicks in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup, in the next round they succumbed 5-3 in a shoot-out against Hiddink's Korea Republic.
• Capdevila, Xavi Hernández, Carlos Marchena and Carles Puyol were part of the Spain team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in the final of the 2000 Men's Olympic Football Tournament. Xavi and Capdevila scored the first two kicks for a Spain side beaten 5-3 in the shoot-out after a 2-2 draw.
• The final of UEFA EURO 2008™ will be played on Sunday 29 June at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna.
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