Russia coach Dick Advocaat today played down suggestions that his side are favorites to make the last eight at UEFA EURO 2012, ahead of their crunch fixture against Poland and after they thrashed the Czech Republic 4-1.
With Poland only managing a 1-1 draw with Greece in their own opening game in Warsaw on Friday - despite the vocal support of tens of thousands of home fans, or perhaps due to that pressure - tomorrow's match is crucial for the EURO 2012 co-hosts if they want to keep their hopes alive.
"Poland are a very strong team and they're playing at home, which is an advantage. But we showed in the first game that we're a very good team and we can make it very difficult for our opponents," said Advocaat. "Poland and Russia are going to go for a win, and only during a game can you say if that's realistic or not."
Pundits see Russia as shoo-ins to top Group A after the result against the Czechs in the southwestern Polish city of Wroclaw on Friday. "That's very optimistic. We've only played one game, so we'll see how it goes. This first game was one to win of course, but we'll see what happens. We've got three points," he underlined.
Advocaat's 23-man squad totals five from CSKA and seven from Zenit Saint Petersburg, including striker Andrey Arshavin, on loan from Arsenal. The former Netherlands boss rejected suggestions of being Zenit-heavy.
"It helps, because they know each other well. They've played together for a few years and they're quite successful in Europe as well, so that helps. But we don't just have seven players from Zenit, we have 23 very good players," he stated.
One of those seven, Konstantin Zyryanov insisted Russia's work in the group was far from done. "I think every opponent is a threat for us, not only the Polish team but also the Greek and Czech team," Zyryanov said.