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Rupert Wyman 6th Jun 2012 - 14:42

Group A: Russia v Czech Republic preview

Russia are the in-form team coming into Euro 2012, they are unbeaten in fourteen matches in which they have conceded only four goals. They take on the Czech Republic in the Group A clash late on Friday afternoon.

The Czech Republic will not be a walkover for Russia, they have qualified for all four Euro finals since the break-up of Czechoslovakia and have been quite successful.

Russia are 11/10 to win, the draw is 11/5 and the Czech victory is 13/5. The Russians have warmed up for the tournament in style and they beat Italy 3-0 in a friendly.

Dick Advocaat has brought balance to a team that failed to qualify for the World Cup. They will play with a 4-3-3 formation and you can expect goals. They will want to get the points on the board and this should be their toughest group clash.

Over 2.5 goals looks big at 6/4,  Arshavin leads the attack and although he had a torrid season, he can impress for Russia. He is 15/2 to open the scoring and 9/4 to find the net anytime. He spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Zenit as he had gone stale at Arsenal.

Not only are Russia strong in attack, they also know how to defend.  They did not concede against the Italians and they are 5/4 to keep a clean sheet.  They are 2/1 to win to nil!

Czech Republic have one of the most in-form keepers in the world. The Russians will need to get past the Chelsea keeper Cech (11/5, Czech clean-sheet). Michal Bilek's side will line-up with Baros up-front, he had to pull out of training on the Tuesday with an injury scare but the 2004 Golden Boot winner should still be fit to lead the attack.

He is 7/1 to open the scoring and 2/1 to find the net anytime. One of the most renown Czech players is Tomas Rosicky (11/2 anytime scorer), the little playmaker may have lost his pace but he was superb at the end of the season for Arsenal. He can orchestrate the play from midfield and the Russians will need to keep him contained.

The Czechs beat Israel 2-1 and lost to Hungary by the same score in their final two warm-up matches but they made the semi-finals in 2004 and they will be looking to spring a surprise.

The ex-Chelsea star Yuri Zhirkov should start for Russia after Lokomotiv's Shishkin was unable to take part in the tournament due to injury. He has impressed of late whilst playing and he could be a big price at 25/1 to open the scoring.

He does not mind going forward and he has a decent shot from distance. With Russia playing three in the midfield, he will overlap the midfielders with darting runs from the back.



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