Russia v Sweden: Arshavin ready to reward faith of Hiddink

It's a clear indication of the importance of Andrei Arshavin to Russia that he was even included in the squad for Euro 2008. Banned from the first two matches because of a foolish red card collected for kicking out at an opponent just six minutes from the end of the final qualification match - away to Andorra, of all teams - meant that the involvement of the 27-year-old became a hot subject for debate.

Not for Guus Hiddink, however. The coach of Russia had no hesitation including Arshavin and, with his team struggling through injury and loss of confidence, he could well make the difference in tonight's must-win Group D decider against Sweden.

And yet. Hiddink indicated yesterday that Arshavin may be left out. "There is a lack of game fitness, game rhythm, because he has not played many games recently. I don't know if he will start," Hiddink said. "The last match he took part in was a friendly against Lithuania (on 4 June). Up until then he had not played much, therefore he may not be in good enough condition to play a whole 90 minutes. We will see."

Hiddink hinted that he may use Arshavin as an impact substitute - although a late decision will be taken today. "Arshavin is a footballer who can make something out of nothing," he said. "He can score from anywhere. It's very useful for our team." Maybe Hiddink's ploy was to dampen down the expectation and, also, keep the Swedes guessing. They certainly expect the Zenit St Petersburg play-maker, whose future will be decided after this tournament in the face of interest from a host of Premier League clubs, to be involved.

"He has been one of their dominant players, we are very familiar with him, what he's done for the Russian team previously and what he has done with his club," Sweden's coach Lars Lagerback said. "We know what role he would play in the team if he is picked and we are 100 percent prepared to face him." Lagerback has his own problems, of course, not least with the state of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's knee - he will start but is not expected to last 90 minutes - while playing two games in a week has taken its toll on 36-year-old Henrik Larsson.

In a contest between the oldest team in the tournament against the youngest, the Swedes also have to contend with fatigue. However they know that, having never lost a competitive game to Russia, a draw will be enough to take them forward to Saturday's quarter-final meeting in Basle with the Netherlands.

Hiddink, of course, would relish playing his homeland and was relieved that the victory over Greece, after a crushing defeat to Spain, has given Russia a chance. The Dutchman admitted that he laid into his players after the first match. "It won't work every day if you try to quarrel (with players) when there is no reason to but sometimes I will do it, maybe individually if necessary," he said.

If Hiddink has had to toughen up the Russians then Lagerback is confident that his team is battle-hardened already. "The fact many of our players have experienced these situations before, also has a certain importance," he said. "You have to be able to handle it mentally. Our players have proved they're very strong in that department. Not least the way we've come back in the late stages of matches."

Russia (probable 4-4-1-1): Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow); Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Ignashevich (CSKA ), Zhirkov (CSKA); Zyryanov (Zenit St Petersburg), Semak (Rubin Kazan), Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), Torbinski* (Lokomotiv Moscow); Arshavin (Zenit St Petersburg); Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow).

Sweden (probable 4-4-2); Isaksson (Manchester City); Alexandersson (Gothenburg), Mellberg (Juventus), Hansson (Rennes), M Nilsson (Panathinaikos); Elmander (Toulouse), Svensson* (Elfsborg), Andersson (Malmo), Ljungberg (West Ham); Ibrahimovic (Internazionale), H Larsson (Helsingborgs).

*on a yellow card.

Referee: F De Bleeckere (Belgium).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there