"I think they will be a bit overconfident," Real Madrid CF and Russia winger Denis Cheryshev told UEFA.com ahead of his country's Group B opener against Spain on Thursday.
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Real Madrid CF forward Denis Cheryshev is one to watch during Russia's UEFA European Under-21 Championship campaign in Israel.
With three goals and two assists in qualifying, Cheryshev was one of the key men in the Russian attack. Moreover, he is worthy of attention as the first player in his country's history to follow in his father's footsteps by representing the senior national side. "My father has given me advice about the tournament," he told UEFA.com two days before Russia's Group B opener against Spain in Jerusalem.
Dmitri Cheryshev made ten full international appearances during a career he wound up in 2003 in Spain, where most notably he represented Real Sporting de Gijón. Cheryshev Jr grew up in Spain and consequently has two native languages. With his father a constant source of wisdom, and his Real Madrid debut under his belt this season (in the Copa del Rey), the 22-year-old looks to be going places.
"I speak with my father every day," he told UEFA.com. "Talking about the EURO he said I should make the most of being here and enjoy what's happening. He always tells me I should be totally committed to football – that then football will reward me. I fully agree with this."
Cheryshev certainly enjoyed his football on Monday when Russia won 7-0 against Israeli third-tier side Maccabi Ironi in a pre-tournament friendly. The left-winger played the first 45 minutes, during which time he scored and racked up an assist. "This match helped me because you always get more confidence when you score a goal or dribble past an opponent," he added. "You also benefit physically – you can avoid some running in training but you can't in a match."
Russia's next encounter, though, will provide a far sterner test. "Everybody knows how strong Spain are, but I think they will be a bit overconfident and we have a chance to frighten them. How should we play against them? We shouldn't play an open game because in one-on-one situations they can easily beat us. We should back each other up, press and be fast on the counterattack. Most important in these kind of matches is to give 100% yourself."
Spain beat Russia 3-1 in a March friendly with goals from Rodrigo, Thiago Alcántara and Iker Muniain. Russia's sole response came courtesy of Pavel Yakovlev. "I have many friends in the Spanish squad, such as my club-mates Nacho, Álvaro Morata and Daniel Carvajal. There is also Pablo Sarabia from Getafe and Iker Muniain. We had a few jokes after that friendly, of course, but nothing at the moment. We are all concentrating on Thursday's game."