So, just as I predicted, Russia are through to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 after outclassing Sweden 2-0 overnight. It’s just a pity that Andrei Arshavin didn’t net the first or I would have made quite a little bit of cash on a first goalscorer bet. Ah well.
You have to marvel at the brilliance of Guus Hiddink as a manager. Over the past 10 years he has achieved respective levels of success with the Dutch, South Korean and Australian national teams and he can now add Russia to that list as well. What’s more, he has done it by adopting a new style with each and every side and playing to the strengths of the squads at his disposal.
With Holland at France ’98 he kept with the national ideal of playing total football and with Korea at the 2002 World Cup he overcame his side’s lack of height by playing with great speed and movement. With Australia at Germany ’06 he ensured his side were the fittest and most aggressive at the tournament and with Russia at Euro 2008 he has played to their main strength – their exciting attack – and consequently minimised the effects of a mediocre defensive department.
Russia’s strong showing thus far has also been down to the strong performances of striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, left-winger Yuri Zherkov, goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and especially the returning Andrei Arshavin. Expect all four to move to bigger clubs at the conclusion of the tournament.
In Group D’s other game Spain ensured Greece went home pointless with a 2-1 win made possible by goals from Ruben de la Red and Daniel Guiza. If they’re names that sound familiar it’s because they were both tentatively linked with a move to Arsenal just over two weeks ago. An interesting coincidence, or a sign of things to come? I’d suggest the former.
In terms of any other Arsenal news there is the amazing revelation from Barcelona vice-president Marc Ingla that the Spanish club are negotiating to sign Alex Hleb. He also mentions that if Arsenal want too much for the Belarussian there’s a good chance that Barcelona will pass.
“The negotiation with Hleb is still in progress and despite him being a player with special qualities, if his club are not ready [to sell him], we have other options in mind.”
Yawn. Soooooooo tireddddddd……. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Sorry about that. I’m over it though, seriously. What happens happens and there’s not much more to say.
Tonight sees Germany take on Portugal in what should be an excellent match-up. I’m tipping Germany to go through although I have a feeling it may go all the way to penalties. Wouldn’t it be great to see Jens Lehmann save from Cristiano Ronaldo to win the match? Heh heh – more tomorrow.
What do you think?
Have your say on Alex Hleb or Euro 2008 by leaving a comment.