Possible Russian Squad for Euro 2008
Since the announcement of the squad is approaching, I just wanted to share my ideas on possible players Guus Hiddink might choose for his 23 man squad for Euro 2008 this summer.
To start from the back, I think Guus Hiddink has made it clear that his prefered goalkeepers are Igor Akinfeev, Vyacheslav Malafeev, and Vladimir Gaboulov. Hiddink’s favorite goalkeeper as everyone already knows is Igor Akinfeev. Having watched him in previous seasons at CSKA Moscow, he his truely amazing. But unfortunatly injury cost him nearly the entire 2007 season with club and country. Malafeev has recently proven himself to be in top form against Bayern Munchen in the UEFA Cup. It’s possible that he has already secured the No. 1 shirt. As for goalkeeper No. 3, I think that Gaboulov is a good choice. He recently transfered to Amkar Perm and has elevated the club in the Russian Premier League.
I think that Hiddink is possibly going to bump Malafeev to No. 1 and Gaboulov to No. 2 simply because Akinfeev has found it difficult to find his previous form. Given his recent performances for Russia and CSKA Moscow, I believe his chances to be in the squad are quite limited. This opens up the No. 3 spot in which Hiddink might choose another goalkeeper. I think possible candidates include Ivan Levenets (Lokomotiv Moscow), Veniamin Mandrykin (Tom Tomsk), and Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow).
Hiddink’s defence is pretty solid with Sergei Ignashevich and the Berezutski twins. Other regulars include Aleksader Anyukov and Denis Kolodin, all of whom have shown terrific form. Hiddink has usually chosen six defenders in the qualifier squads. I dont see him changing that so the sixth spot is wide open with a large pool of candidates. I’m not sure who Hiddink will pick but my favorite is Roman Shirokov from Zenit St. Petersburg. He has clearly been converted to a defender and has shown brilliant form during Zenit’s UEFA Cup campaign. Other possible candidates include Sergei Efimov, Ivan Tranaov, and Renat Yanbayev, all of whom have been called up by Hiddink for training sessions.
For the midfield, Hiddink has a large pool to choose from but I think he will probably go with the players he used in the qualifying campaign. That includes Konstantine Zyrianov, Igor Semshov, Yuri Zhirkov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Vladimir Bystrov, Dmitri Torobinski, and Marat Izmialov. Hiddink is likley to pack the midfield and may include eight or nine players of his 23 man squad. Like Ivan siad in his previous article, foreign based players Viktor Budyanski and Ivan Saenko are not getting enough playing time. I think possible alternatives include Igor Denisov and Evgeni Aldonin. Denisov has obviously been in form with Zenit so Hiddink is likey to cap him soon. Evgeni Aldonin is a valuable choice simply because of his vast experience and leadership skills. But like I said, Hiddink has large pool of midfielders to choose from so there are countless possibilities.
According to euro2008.com, Hiddink has stated he will choose only five strikers. This is why I guess you see all the strikers across Russia striving to be fit. In qualifying, Hiddink was consistent in using Andrei Arshavin, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Roman Pavlychenko, Dmitry Sychev, and Pavel Pogrebnyak.
I think that Arshavin was lucky to only get a two match ban otherwise as Hiddink stated, he would not have included him in the squad. Its quite obvious, Hiddink will choose Arshavin simply because he is the best striker who can play on the left side. Arshavin has also been the marshall in Zenit’s attack in their UEFA Cup campaign. Arshavin’s partner Pavel Pogrebnyak is currently the top scorer in the UEFA Cup and may have already secured his place in the squad.
Since moving back to Russia from Sevilla, Aleksandr Kerzhakov has reestablished himself as a candidate for the squad. He was Hiddink’s favorite striker since his appointment as Russia manager. It is imprtant to note that Kerzhakov has tournament experience having played in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. I think the advantage of pairing Kerzhakov up front with Arshavin is their mutual understanding while playing together at Zenit St. Petersburg. Kerzhakov also adds a bit of foriegn experience to the squad having played at Sevilla FC for a year. In short, Kerzhakov has regained form with Dinamo Moscow and is likely to be included in the Russian squad.
Pavluchenko is a stong candidate to having been utilized by Hiddink in qualifying. He has shown top form for Spartak Moscow and is their all time leading goal scorer. Pavlyuchenko showed his pace and firepower against England and hieght gives him aerial capability. However I think that he is unlikey to get a starting place as he is second to Kerzhakov.
Sychev, like Kerzhakov, adds tournament experience having played in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. He is likely to compete for the striker position with Kerzhakov, Pavluchenko, and Pogrebnyak but can be utilized on the wing as well. He may be Arshavin’s replacement for the first ro games but it seems Izmailov is in contention for that role. But I think that if Hiddink rotates between Kerzhakov, Pavlyuchenko, Pogrebnyak, and Sychev it will keep the Russian attack nice and fresh.
I think that all five strikers listed are probably the best strikers Hiddink has at his disposal. However they have not avoided competition. In my opinion the best alternative from the usual five is Dmitri Bulykin. Although his last cap for Russia was in September 2004 and was a one of two goal scorers for Russia at Euro 2004, I think that he has a strong chance be in the squad given his form at Bayer Leverkusen. He has not been getting enough playing time but has scored crucial goals in the Bundesliga to keep Leverkusen in the top five.
Other candidates include Roman Adamov and Evegeni Savin. Both of whom will be called upon incase one of the five usual strikers are deemed unfit.
Anyway, I think that Hiddink is likely to go his usual lineup up front.
Well, I have given you my thoughts on a possible lineup Hiddink my reveal this week and I am interested in reading your comments.
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