Football: Romantsev must rouse Russia or face early exit

A RUSSIAN side with their backs against the wall take on the world champions France, without the injured Zinedine Zidane, in a Euro 2000 Group Four qualifier in St-Denis today.

The Russians must win at the Stade de France to stay in contention for the European Championship finals and avoid missing out on two successive major international tournaments. They failed to reach last year's World Cup in France and now lie fourth in their group, five points behind the joint leaders and three adrift of Iceland. Only a victory over France, unbeaten in 19 matches since losing a World Cup warm-up 1-0 in Moscow 15 months ago, will maintain Russia's interest in the competition. "We have to play attacking football," their coach, Oleg Romantsev, said.

With the former Millwall striker Sergei Yuran, who hit the only goal in the friendly in March 1998, off form, Romantsev is pinning his scoring hopes on a new discovery, Alexander Panov, who scored twice in St Petersburg's 3-1 Russian Cup final win over Dynamo Moscow last week.

Russia scored nine goals in their last two qualifiers against the two weakest sides in the group, beating Armenia 3-0 away and Andorra 6-1 in Moscow in March, boosting their goals record to 13-8. But they have since struggled in a 1-1 draw in a friendly against Belarus. To add to their problems, the Russians are without two stalwarts at the back, the injured Benfica goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov and Roma's Dimitri Alenichev.

The French coach Roger Lemerre faces his third successive match without the Juventus playmaker Zidane, who is recovering from knee surgery. The French, who won 3-2 in Moscow in October, are joint top of the group, along with Ukraine, on 11 points each.

Expecting Russia to try to hit his side on the break, Lemerre said: "We always have difficulties against closed defences. That was already the case in Iceland and Andorra. It is even more the case against teams like Ukraine and Russia."

France dropped points in a 1-1 draw in Reykjavik in September and then at home to Ukraine in a 0-0 draw in March. Four days later, they struggled to beat Andorra 2-0.

Youri Djorkaeff and Robert Pires are in line to share the playmaking duties with Emmanuel Petit and the captain, Didier Deschamps, behind them in support. Roma's left-back Vincent Candela comes in for the injured Bayern Munich defender Bixente Lizarazu in the only forced change from the side that played Ukraine.

In attack Sylvain Wiltord of the French champions Bordeaux, who finished the league season as top marksman with 22 goals, should make his second start alongside Arsenal's Nicolas Anelka, who scored the opener in Moscow. "I don't think we'll score as many goals," said Anelka. "The Russians can't allow themselves to lose."

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Thame i...

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Teaching Assistant Plymouth

£45 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS REQUIRED F...

Drama Teacher

£110 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a Drama tea...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past