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Russia coach Hiddink urging 'underdog' Russia to break pattern with Euro 2008 win over Spain

Russia coach Hiddink urging 'underdog' Russia to break pattern with Euro 2008 win over Spain

Guus Hiddink is well used to being the underdog at major tournaments and is trying hard to make sure his Russia side isn't seen as favorite for its opening European Championship match against Spain.
And having seen the Czech Republic, Portugal, Croatia and Germany win the first four games of the tournament, Hiddink, who took South Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup, is urging his latest side to buck the trend that seems to be developing.
"Favorites have won their first game in the tournament," Hiddink said Monday. "So tomorrow in our confrontation with Spain _ and I have said it many times that they are favorite _ we hope to break the (pattern)."
Victory over the Group D favorite at the Tivoli Neu stadium would not be the first time a team coached by Hiddink has caused an upset against Spain. At the World Cup in 2002, his South Korea team beat Spain on penalties in the quarterfinal on its way to a fourth-place finish that shocked football.
But Hiddink said he would draw little from the match six years ago.
"I think it's a long time ago now. I hardly can remember that now," he said. "We are on the eve of this tournament. It's different circumstances, different teams, different coaches, everything is different."
The 61-year-old Dutchman usually likes his teams to play attractive, attacking football, but he will likely have to temper that instinct against the potent Spanish midfield and attack, especially since Russia is missing its two best forwards, the injured Pavel Pogrebnyak and suspended Andrei Arshavin.
Hiddink didn't give anything away about his tactics on Monday, but his captain Sergei Semak hinted that Russia would try to crowd the midfield to stifle the creativity of stars like Fernando Torres and David Villa, who have scored a combined 56 goals this season.
"We know that Spain is famous for its improvisation and we have to be playing in a compact group, not creating too much space," said Semak, who is the most experienced player with 46 international appearances.
Hiddink is also hoping his players _ all but one of whom play in the Russian domestic league _ will not be overawed by Tuesday's match.
"I ... am very curious because it's the first time they act on a huge stage, how they will perform," he said. "Because I know there are many influences coming up once you start a game and I hope they can play as they can play from their nature and not be influenced by many external issues."
The side is young and inexperienced, but has several players who won the UEFA Cup with CSKA Moscow in 2005 or Zenit St. Petersburg this season so they are used to big European matches.
Semak said that experience already is helping Russia overcome its big game nerves.
"The situation is rather calm," he said.


Updated : 2021-07-29 05:34 GMT+08:00