Euro 2016: Russia v Wales - Expert v Expert Preview


Defeats last time out make this a crucial clash for both Russia and Wales in Toulouse, where either side could end the evening eliminated from Euro 2016.

Russian football expert Artur Petrosyan teams up with our Wales man Mark Jones to preview the action:

 

TEAM NEWS

Artur Petrosyan on Russia: Oleg Shatov is the latest injury concern for Russia. His muscle problems didn’t let him train with the team on Friday but he trained individually the following day. He’s a doubt for the Wales game and could be replaced by Roman Shirokov at the top of the midfield triangle.

Another injury in the least lucky team of the Euros occurred  in the gym on Friday when Pavel Mamaev damaged his forehead, which drew blood and mean t he was allowed to skip a day of training.

The rest of the squad seems fine and ready for the game which could be the last for Russia at the tournament. Yet Russia, who have been one of the poorest sides in France so far, are amazingly just two games off the quarterfinals – beat Wales and then, probably, Hungary, and you’re there.

FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH16-ENG-WAL : News Photo

Mark Jones on Wales: The three ‘first XI’ players who missed the Slovakia game were all called back into the side to face England, but none of them really covered themselves in glory.

Wayne Hennessey and Hal Robson-Kanu will start again, but with Joe Ledley’s fitness an ongoing concern then it would be no surprise to see Dave Edwards step into the centre of midfield.

Elsewhere it’s very much likely to be as you were, although the merit of playing three central defenders against Russia’s giant forward Artem Dzyuba remains to be seen. A better option might be to drop one of them for an extra midfielder, perhaps Leicester’s Andy King. 

 

FORM

Petrosyan: The team has been heavily criticised back in Russia, not just for their lack of class but mostly for the lack of effort. Leonid Slutsky, the head coach, is also under heavy attack, probably the most in his career. The team only got going after substitutions were made in both of Russia’s games, therefore everyone is furious at his team selection, particularly at Roman Shirokov, Pavel Mamaev and Denis Glushakov being omitted from the starting XI.

Changes all around are therefore expected this time. Roman Neustadter and Aleksandr Golovin could make way for Glushakov and Mamaev, with Shirokov replacing Shatov. Georgy Schennikov, who didn’t impress against either England or Slovakia, could pass his left-back role to Dmitry Kombarov, especially if Slutsky opts to play Kombarov’s Spartak Moscow teammate Glushakov.

There are also talks of changing formation for this crucial game. 4-3-3 with centre forwards Aleksandr Kokorin and Fedor Smolov playing out wide wasn’t a very good idea, so it could change to 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 with Smolov or Shirokov playing off Artem Dzyuba.

Jones: A point from the England game would have been treated like a win in Wales, but Chris Coleman’s side were always second-best in Lens, and were ultimately outdone by England’s vast attacking resources from the bench.

The Welsh camp have been desperate to downplay the defeat though, and they’ll be using the Slovakia win as motivation against surely the weakest team in Group B.

There’s also historical scores to be settled, with Wales fans recalling the controversial defeat to Russia in a playoff to reach Euro 2004. “I was in the crowd, I remember the heartache,” said Joe Allen.

 

KEY MAN

Petrosyan: It should be Shirokov this time. There are three players Slutsky subbed on in both games - Shirokov, Glushakov and Mamaev – and it lead to Russia scoring two goals after their introduction while conceding none.

Everyone’s waiting for their inclusion in the starting XI, especially Shirokov, the CSKA 34-year-old midfielder who seems to be one of few who could make things happen in Russia’s attack.

England v Wales - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016 : News Photo

Jones: Gareth Bale is still the best and most likely source of a goal, but in a match where Wales’s midfield energy could prove crucial against the fairly slow Russians, I’ll go for Aaron Ramsey.

He’s had a fairly hit and miss tournament so far, but at his best he can make things happen for his side, and if he can break into the box from midfield then I see him as a good shout to nick a goal. 

 

SURE THING

Petrosyan: Wales need a draw, Russia need a win. I think Russia could surprise (not just spectators who don’t expect much from them but Wales as well) and play to their maximum this time. They have the players who should just click at the same time. 

Chris Coleman’s team are surely down after the England loss, where they were minutes from clinching the first spot in the group but ended up 90 minutes from leaving France. Russia Draw No Bet at 1.80.

Jones: It’s 2.00 for Bale to be fouled over 2.5 times in the match. Against this Russian side that’s just printing money, isn’t it?

 

LONG SHOT

England v Russia - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016 : News Photo

Petrosyan: I expect (and hope for) changes not just in personnel, but also in formation. In this case, Artem Dzyuba will play an even more important role, as most of the attacks will end with him getting the ball. He’s the kind of a guy who needs to get angry at everyone and at himself too to perform. This seems to be the time Dzyuba to score first at 8.00 is a good shout.

Jones: Apparently no-one has ever scored three direct free-kicks at a European Championships before so I won’t push my luck with that one again, but there has been another theme running through Wales’s matches at this tournament – and indeed the rest of this group – so far.

No-one’s defence is infallible, and as I strongly believe Wales can win this one I’ll go for Wales to win and both teams to score at 6.50.

 

SCORE PREDICTION

Petrosyan: Russia 3-2 Wales at 41.00.

Jones: Russia 1-2 Wales at 11.00