The Finnish team dreams of the round of 16 after their first victory in a European Championship.
Finland, who disputes his first Eurocup, is not satisfied with the surprising victory against Denmark on the first day and wants to continue making history against a crestfallen Russia, who comes to the game with water around her neck after being beaten by Belgium.
In case there was any doubt, the Finnish coach, Markku Kanerva, recalled that three points do not guarantee qualification for the round of 16 and that the “huuhkajat” (real owls) have not yet fulfilled their dream.
The Scandinavians are aware that they were lucky against the Danes, who were stunned by the fading of Christian eriksen and conceded a goal on the only occasion available to the rival team.
But they want to take advantage of the gift to go as far as possible. As happened in the Copenhagen match, against the Russians they will also play in their rival field, Saint Petersburg.
The scheme will be practically the same. The whole team behind the ball; take advantage of a set piece and set up a counterattack behind the slow Russian defense.
Kanerva He admitted today that the draw is worth it and that the defense will have to repeat the magnificent performance of Copenhagen, but also that they will have to improve in attack.
Finnish center-backs Arajuuri and O’Shauhnessy are over 1.90 tall, so they shouldn’t have a hard time stopping the biggest local offensive threat, Zenit’s giant forward Artiom Dzyuba.
Pohjanpalo, the scorer of the only goal against the Danes, showed that it is a guarantee. But the great hope of the Finnish attack remains Teemu Pukki (Norwich), who looked a bit rusty on Saturday after being injured for two months.
Even for two hours, ice hockey, a national sport in Finland, will give way to football.
Meanwhile, Russia needs to introduce changes in the team, since the defeat against the “red devils” left many doubts to the coach, Stanislav Cherchesov, subject to harsh criticism in the press, both for the tactics and for the choice of the starting eleven.
“The criticism was absolutely deserved. Now we want revenge, “he said at the press conference.
The first question is the goal. Shunin, who did not convince anyone as a starter, was insecure and failed. Akinféev, the hero of the penalty shoot-out against Spain in the World Cup, is not an alternative, since he left the national team three years ago, but Safónov, the Krasnodar and U21 goalkeeper, is.
The defense has less solution. Seménov did not measure up, but the third center-back, Kudriashov, has just returned to training; Divéev is not one hundred percent; and Dzhikiya is “between cottons”, as he admitted Cherchesov.
Perhaps the solution is to play a more open football in which the long wingers, the best of the Russian team, can reach the baseline to feed Dzyuba, who barely received any balls in the first game.
That role can be played by Mario Fernandese on the right and Karaváev on the left, since, according to Cherchesov, veteran Zhirkov is very likely to miss what is left of Eurocup due to a muscle injury.
If Cherchesov wants more depth in attack, he could remove one of the defensive midfielders, Ozdóev or Zobnin, and opt for Kuzyáev, a universal player who was substituted after half an hour against Belgium by a blow with Castagne, who suffered a double fracture in the face.
Atalanta’s left-hander, Alexéi Miranchuk, substitute against the Belgians, will probably also have his starting opportunity. It is clear that Alexandr Golovín (Monaco) cannot carry the full weight of responsibility in attack.
Finland: Hradecky; Toivio, Arajuuri, O’Shaughnessy; Raitala, Lod, Sparv, Kamara, Uronen; Pohjanpalo and Pukki.
Russia: Shunin; Mario Fernandes, Dzhikiya, Seménov, Karavaev; Ozdóev, Zobnin, Golovín, Miranchuk, Ionov; and Dzyuba.