Russian striker Andrei Arshavin has warned Marco van Basten's Holland to expect his side's attacking machine to hit top gear for Saturday's Euro 2008 quarter-final.
The 27-year-old forward was the man-of-the-match as Russia booked a last eight berth – to set up a tantalising reunion between Russia's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink and his compatriots in what is in effect a rematch of the 1988 final between the Dutch and the then Soviet Union – with a 2-0 win over Sweden in Innsbruck on Wednesday night to clinch second place in Group D behind Spain.
The Zenit St Petersburg star says his side squandered numerous chances against the Swedes – just as they did in the 1-0 win against Greece – and insists the Dutch could feel the full force of their goalscoring fire-power at St. Jakob-Park on Saturday.
“I don't think we needed to score that many goals in the Swedish game,” said Arshavin.
“We need to save them for the next games and I hope we will score a few against the Dutch.”
Having sat out Russia's first two Euro 2008 matches through suspension, Arshavin showed what his side had been missing as he dominated Sweden.
He provided the movement which led to Roman Pavlyuchenko's 24th-minute opener and then turned goal-scorer himself on 50 minutes to set up the meeting with van Basten's powerful Dutch team.
And for Russia's former Holland coach Guus Hiddink, Saturday's game promises to be a special occasion.
“Why not,” replied Hiddink to a question regarding whether his side could beat the Dutch.
“The only thing that worries me, is that the Dutch will have had five days more rest than us (as most of the first team missed the Romania clash).
“That is not insignificant.
“It will be a special match for me. I know everybody there, the coach, the players.
“What really gives me pleasure is two footballing sides taking each other on. It will be a great match.
“It is a very special date for me,” added the 61-year-old, who guided the Dutch to the 1998 World Cup semi-finals where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout.
But Arshavin says Russia will have their work cut out against “the best side” at Euro 2008.
“If we didn't have to play the Netherlands, we would feel much better, because I think they are the best side here,” he said.
“But fate has it that we have to play the strongest team in the tournament in the last eight.
“I hope we will be able to match them.”
The Dutch, who have hammered both World Cup finalists Italy (3-0) and France (4-1), on the way to the quarter-finals have been setting the Euro 2008 agenda with some beautiful attacking football.
Van Basten believes his side can go on emulate the squad he inspired to victory in the 1988 European Championships, scoring one of the greatest goals the championships or indeed any finals has ever witnessed in the final against the Soviets.
“The atmosphere is good. The players are working well together and having a good time,” said the former AC Milan ace.
“If we continue playing like this I don't know where exactly we are going to end up but I hope it is going to take a long time,” van Basten said.
Van Basten, who is stepping down after the tournament to take over at one of his former clubs Ajax, said the group matches had been a joy to behold but now they were getting to the business end of things where one mistake could be the end of the dream.
“We have made a great start. But Saturday is another match altogether and we have to start again from zero,” said van Basten.
Another incentive for them to beat Russia will be as a mark of respect for defender Khalid Boulahrouz who has declared himself fit to play Saturday's game despite the death of his prematurely-born baby daughter during the week.
“I understand that it is really hard for Khalid and we will have to support him as best we can,” said van Basten.
“Still, our focus has to be on Russia and that is what Khalid also wants.”
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