Beaten Russia happy with work in progress

Russia were focusing on the positives after friendly defeats by Italy and Spain, with Real Madrid CF's Denis Cheryshev confident Nikolai Pisarev's side can fill in the blanks before June.

Russia pair Denis Cheryshev and Aleksandr Filtsov were focusing on the positives after suffering two friendly defeats in four days against fellow 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship finalists.

Beaten 2-0 by Italy on Friday, Nikolai Pisarev's side were outplayed again on Monday evening as holders Spain flexed their attacking muscles in a 3-1 victory on the outskirts of Madrid. Having lost to ten-man Norway last month, it means Russia head to June's finals in Israel on the back of three successive defeats – not that the players are unduly concerned.

"It's better to lose in a friendly than at the EURO," said Cheryshev. "Now we will get prepared to play well with our clubs, and we will think about the EURO later. These were two difficult matches, but I think we can take a lot of things out of them. The EURO is an event full of very strong teams, so we have to continue working hard."

They do not come harder than Spain, a team whose approach to the game Real Madrid CF midfielder Cheryshev needs no introduction to. He believes that their style and the players at their disposal makes La Roja "clear favourites" this summer.

Yet Russia, who begin their campaign against Spain on 6 June, are not going to Israel to make up the numbers. "I think the match [against Spain] reflected our style of play, which is to be united in defence and dangerous on the counterattack; those are our strengths, and I think we can benefit from them," said Cheryshev.

Goalkeeper Filtsov is also confident, buoyed after winning his fourth cap as a substitute on Monday. "It was a good experience for us," he said. "We got a look at our opponents; we saw who we will be facing. At the EUROs games will be completely different. They will be more intense; everything will be different. We can do a good job at the EUROs and take the title."

Striker Pavel Yakovlev, scorer of the second-half goal that briefly brought Russia level with Spain, spoke of his side's ability to "hurt" big teams; coach Pisarev agrees. "Unfortunately we did not convert our chances [against Spain] but it was a friendly game and now we have something to work on," he added. "I am optimistic about our future. We will be more ready and better balanced by June."