It may be a negative for some teams who replace their manager part way through a qualifying campaign, however that is most certainly not the case for Russia. After dispatching Fabio Capello in 2015 the CSKA Manager Leonid Slutsky took the roll as boss and the team responded immediately. Since the change, Russia have not lost a competitive game and have a goal difference of +10 in the short time that Slutsky has been in charge.
Unfortunately all cannot be positive about this Russian team. While they do have such an impressive record under the new manager it may be argued that the run of fixtures may have helped his cause. Russia had already previously played the group winners Austria twice before the new regime took control, they also had fixtures in favour of the new manager as they hammered the lowly ranked Lichtenstein 7-0 as well as beating Montenegro and Moldova which lessens the value of the above statistics.
Although Russia may be a team to be reckoned with in Euro 2016, they had a relatively easy passage to the tournament and the poor form of the Russian club sides in Europe (Most of the squad is made up of Russian national players). It can be argued that the group stage is where their journey is likely to end but with the 4 'Best Loser' places up for grabs they may be able to sneak through the back door into the last 16.
Russia's first challenge at Euro 2016 will be to get through a very competitive Group B. This task may well rely on the performance of the Welsh team who are going to be an unknown quantity in the tournament and the match between these two sides on 20th June may well shape the group. Heading into this, Russia are currently favourites to beat the Welsh and if this were to go the way the bookies expect then it will surely see the Russians through.
As for winning the tournament, Russia are currently quoted @ 66/1 and this probably looks a fair price, if they were to progress from the group stages the challenge of facing one of the teams at the head of the outright market in the last 16 may well be too much for this side, as with an aging squad they undoubtedly do not have the quality to compete at an elite international level.
|France||1984||Did not qualify||-|
|Belgium / Netherlands||2000||Did not qualify||-|
|Austria / Switzerland||2008||Semi-finals||3|
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Group Stage||-|
Russia have been relatively consistent over the years showing nothing to expect major improvement, but if they could muster a return to the form that helped them to a Semi-final in 2008 then perhaps an improved run can be expected.
|11.06.16||17.00||Wales||2 - 1||Slovakia|
|11.06.16||20.00||England||1 - 1||Russia|
|15.06.16||14.00||Russia||1 - 2||Slovakia|
|16.06.16||14.00||England||2 - 1||Wales|
|20.06.16||20.00||Russia||0 - 3||Wales|
|20.06.16||20.00||Slovakia||0 - 0||England|
A tough group is waiting in the form of Group B but it is one that is wide open and could realistically see Russia finish anywhere from top to bottom as all of the teams are evenly matched. On rankings and price England will be the toughest team they face, however England's tournament form isn't great. The other 2 teams are Wales and Slovakia, neither of these sides have a great deal of experience in tournament football which may play into the hands of this vastly experienced outfit who have acquitted themselves well in 3 of their last 4 tournaments.
In truth Group B is one the most unpredictable groups but offers alot of value and if Russia can take the form they have shown under their new manager into Euro 2016 then they can definitely take 1 of the 2 qualifying positions or potentially one of the 4 'Best Loser' places.
Below is a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group B and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, Russia weigh in at 27, with both England and Wales ranked higher.
Artyom Sergeyevich Dzyuba the Zenit Saint Petersburg striker tops the list with 8 goals during qualifying and is an outside tip to be the tournaments leading goalscorer, if Russia can find their feet and put together a good run through the tournament, but goals can come from anywhere in this Russian side which will cause problems for any team wanting to negate the assets of this squad.
|Dmitri Kombarov||29||Defender / Midfield||1|
|Fyodor Smolov||26||Midfield / Forward||1|
Russia may be able to use their experience to navigate through group B, especially with the advent of the 4 'Best Loser' places, and surge into the last 16 stage of Euro 2016. However the better quality side they will encounter may find this team out as their lack of world class players who are able to turn a game on it's head with a moment of brilliance in close games is a worry against the better sides in the tournament and the bet would be for Russia to exit in the last 16.
The Russian squad is made up of many quality players however they do lack a world class asset. A strange quirk for this Russian team is that due to their FA regulations many of the team play in Russia itself with the only real exception being Aleksandr Kerzhakov who plays in the Swiss Super League on loan from Russian Premier League club Zenit St. Petersburg, and with this European experience alone he may be the man to watch if he gets a run in the starting 11, but the possibility of goals is what will make Russia's opposition take notice.
Russia possess a well drilled and experienced defensive line-up, with two fast full backs Schennikov and Smolnikov who like to get forward at every opportunity. Look for quick counter-attacks and plenty crosses into the box to feed their star man Artem Dzyuba, who is more than capable of putting the finishing touches to the job.