Spain ready for Russia opener
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Spain and Russia can be forgiven a feeling of déjà vu when they kick off their Group D campaign in Innsbruck having also met in the finals four years ago.
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Spain and Russia can be forgiven a feeling of déjà vu when they kick off their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaigns in Innsbruck. The teams also met in their opening game at UEFA EURO 2004™ when 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.
• If that encounter stirs positive memories for Spanish supporters, neither team will want history to repeat itself when Group D reaches its conclusion given both 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.
• Russia have never beaten Spain, with the only two other encounters between the teams producing a 1-0 win for Spain in Granada in 1998 – Bittor Alkiza scoring the goal – and then a goalless draw in Albacete in 2006.
• The lineups for the latter friendly on 27 May 2006 were:
Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pablo Ibáñez, Carles Puyol, Antonio López (Joaquín Sánchez) David Albelda (Xavi Hernández), Marcos Senna (Xabi Alonso), Cesc Fabregas (Andrés Iniesta), Luis García (Raúl González), David Villa (José Antonio Reyes) Fernando Torres.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Aleksei Berezutski (Konstantin Zyrianov), Vasili Berezutski, Sergei Ignashevich, Aleksei Smertin, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Dmitri Kirichenko), Evgeni Aldonin, Aleksandr Anyukov, Dmitri Loskov (Sergei Semak), Andrei Arshavin (Dmitri Sychev), Aleksandr Kerzhakov (Yegor Titov).
• Spain qualified for the Austria and Switzerland finals by winning Group F ahead of Sweden, another side they will face in Group D. They made sure of their finals berth in style, beating Sweden 3-0 in their penultimate qualifier on 17 November last year, and finished with a record of W9 D1 L2.
• Luis Aragonés's men reached the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup – where they succumbed 3-1 against eventual finalists France – on their most recent appearance at a major tournament.
• Russia, who failed to make Germany 2006, reached these finals after coming second to Croatia in Group E. Guus Hiddink's team sealed qualification in their final game, capitalising on England's home defeat by Croatia to climb into second spot after Dmitri Sychev earned a 1-0 win in Andorra. They posted a record of W7 D3 L2.
• 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 and were runners-up in 1984 in France. Their best performance came 20 years previously when they beat the USSR 2-1 to win the Henri Delaunay trophy on home soil, in Madrid in 1964.
• 'Chus' Pereda opened the scoring for Spain inside six minutes of the final at the Santiago Bernabéu and although Galimzian Khusainov drew the Soviet Union level two minutes later, Marcelino made sure of a home triumph with Spain's second goal after 84 minutes.
• This is Russia's third EURO finals appearance as an independent state and, in both 1996 and 2004, they went home after the group stage. They enjoyed considerable success as part of the former Soviet Union, however, winning the inaugural UEFA European Championship in 1960 – beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final in Paris – and finishing runners-up in 1964, 1972 and 1988.
• 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.
• Russia coach Hiddink has held the reins at three Spanish sides: Valencia CF (1991-94), Real Madrid CF (1998/99) and Real Betis Balompié (1999/00).
• Hiddink enjoyed 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 5-3 on penalties.
• At club level, Hiddink's PSV 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, Andrei Arshavin, Vyacheslav Malafeev, Roman Shirokov and Konstantin Zyrianov 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, Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna.
• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth edition that features a final tournament with a group phase.