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Apr, 30, 2012

Team Profile: Russia




Overall record at finals: Played 11, Won 4, Drawn 1, Lost 6

Best performance: Semifinals in 2008

Most appearances at finals: Aleksandr Anyukov; Igor Semshov (2004, 2008) - 6

Most goals at finals: Roman Pavlyuchenko (2008) - 3

European Championship high: With talisman Andrey Arshavin suspended for the first two games in Euro 2008, Russia got to the semifinals with the returning forward inspiring them past Netherlands. It took eventual winners Spain to halt Russia's attacking charge, but it won plenty of plaudits for its play.

European Championship low: Failure to get to Euro 2000 came from a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in their final qualifying game. After Russia took a 1-0 lead, a terrible mistake by goalkeeper Alexandr Filimonov late in the game saw it end 1-1. The Russians finished third, missing a berth in the tournament to their opponents and group winners France.

European Championship legend: Sergei Ignashevich is the most prolific defender in Russian history and has scored more than 50 goals for his country. Netting one in the 6-0 win over Andorra, he has also made 34 European Championship appearances in qualifying and the final tournament to tie with another defensive legend: Viktor Onopko.

The story so far: Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia helped win the inaugural competition in 1960. With legends like goalkeeper Lev Yashin and Igor Netto, it beat Yugoslavia 2-1 in the final after extra-time. In 1964, Russia was runner-up to Spain and, after finishing the 1968 tournament in fourth place, lost the 1972 final to West Germany 3-0 in Brussels. Three tournaments of failure followed before Netherlands striker Marco van Basten and his famous volley saw the Russians off in the 1988 final. Under the banner of the CIS (Confederation of Independent States) in 1992, it struggled to recreate past glories and did not get past the Group Stages until Andrey Arshavin inspired the side to the 2008 semifinals under Guus Hiddink.

Qualification: Struggling early on, the Russians followed a sluggish 2-0 victory over Andorra with a 1-0 home loss to Slovakia. But after that, Dick Advocaat's side turned it around in Ireland and went 3-0 up before holding off a fightback to seal a 3-2 win. More accusations of laziness came in an 0-0 with Armenia and a labored 1-0 win over Macedonia, but Russia sealed progress by virtue of a 6-0 drubbling of Andorra, maintaining the second-best defensive record by conceding just four goals in 10 games. "We took part in a difficult ten-match competition and deservedly won it," said Advocaat. "I hope any criticisms toward the national team will die down now."

Qualifying record: P10, W7, D2, L1, F17, A4, Pts 23

Most appearances: Vasili Berezutski, Andrey Arshavin (10)

Top goalscorer: Alan Dzagoev, Roman Pavlyuchenko (4)

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