Captain Sergei Golyatkin believes Russia have been "overconfident" as they prepare to bow out of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship although he is hoping his side will be able to redeem themselves against France in Steyr.
Russia have already been eliminated from the competition after defeats against Germany (3-2) and Serbia (6-2) in Group A, leaving Golyatkin to reflect on what might have been. "Before the tournament we thought we were going to reach the semi-finals at least," he told uefa.com. "Playing in the final round is an honour and an achievement, but it is one that made us and our fans hope for more. Now they must be just as disappointed as we are."
Russia showed scintillating form in the Elite round in England, remaining undefeated against the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the hosts to qualify for the finals in Austria. But Golyatkin is certain the confidence his side derived from that success has cost them dearly, saying: "After our experience in England, we were overconfident and certain it would be hard to stop us. That was a mistake. Having said that, we were unlucky too, especially in the opening game against Germany. Had we got at least a point there we would certainly have performed much better in our second match."
Russia found themselves two goals down in the early stages of both games, a factor that Golyatkin also points to as crucial. "Against Serbia we wanted to build up on a stable defence and steadily take control," he said. "However, their two quick goals completely ruined our plans. Against Germany we managed to fight back at the end of the first half but their third goal killed us off."
With the possiblilty of qualification now gone and the pressure off, Golyatkin and his team-mates should have the chance to show what they are really capable of. "We have learned our lesson in the previous matches and shall now try to stabilise our defence," the FC Rubin Kazan defender added. "We must keep our cool, go into the match fully concentrated and do everything we can to redeem ourselves. We have the potential to beat France, but in football you never know."
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