Russia can seal progression from the Euro 2012 group stages with a draw against Greece in Warsaw on Saturday.
Dick Advocaat’s side have been one of the most impressive at the tournament so far, following up a 4-1 opening day thrashing of the Czech Republic with an entertaining 1-1 draw against co-hosts Poland.
Midfielder Alan Dzagoev has starred, netting three goals, while the performances of Andrey Arshavin and Roman Shirokov have also come in for praise.
Despite the fact that a point would be enough to earn Russia progression to the quarter-finals, Shirokov insists they will be determined to produce victory in the Group A tussle.
“Of course a draw with Greece will also put us into the knockout stage but we should win and stay in Warsaw (for the quarter-finals),” Shirokov said.
“Any other result will be unacceptable.”
His thoughts were echoed by goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev who says his team should focus on winning and nothing else.
“We also need to forget that a draw will also put us into the knockout stage and score,” Malafeev said.
“Once, twice – as much as we can.”
Advocaat is likely to replace misfiring forward Alexander Kerzhakov with Roman Pavlyuchenko up front.
Kerzhakov had seven attempts on goal that were off target – the most recorded for any match by a player at the European Championship finals – in the opener against the Czechs, and wasted several opportunities against Poland as well.
Pavlyuchenko, who moved to Lokomotiv Moscow from Tottenham Hotspur in the January transfer window, has scored 21 goals in 49 matches for Russia, including one in his side’s opening day victory against the Czechs.
Apart from bringing Pavlyuchenko in, Russia are unlikely to change a side which is now unbeaten in 16 matches.
For Greece, anything less than a win and they will be packing their bags and heading home.
A brave 1-1 draw with Poland in the opener – in which they had a goal disallowed for offside and had a penalty saved – was followed by a 2-1 defeat against the Czech Republic.
They were made to pay for a slow start in that fixture, conceding two goals in the first six minutes in Tuesday’s match in Wroclaw before Theofanis Gekas gave Greece some hope with a goal in the 53rd minute.
But despite having more possession and shots on target than Czech Republic, Greece could not find an equaliser putting them in a desperate situation against Russia.
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