UEFA EURO 2020 proved a chastening experience for Russia; now they must look to the future.
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It was a short journey. Russia pictured a route through to the last 16 when the draw was made, but reality bites. They have finished bottom of Group B after a difficult campaign, yet they depart with a positive message from coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who says he can see light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope it won't take much longer to get there.
What were the positives?
The win against Finland. Looking at the bigger picture, the tournament experience Russia's young players have gained could prove invaluable. Here's hoping they will learn lessons and dust themselves down in order to take their game to another level.
I've worked at quite a few major tournaments, but this was my debut as a UEFA reporter at a EURO and I have to say it was a privilege. Being close to the national team and having the opportunity to keep EURO2020.com visitors fully informed was a huge responsibility but a great experience.
What the future holds
We must hope that more youngsters can force their way into the reckoning considering this is a team with an average age of around 30. There are outstanding talents out there and we need to ensure that their transition into the senior team is fast and smooth.
Predictions for the rest of EURO 2020
I tipped France and Portugal for a repeat of the EURO 2016 final before the start. However, if I have to name the finalists now, I'd go for Italy and Germany.Download the EURO app