Russia are set to host Finland in a match that most likely decides who will qualify from Group B alongside Belgium.
Following a harrowing experience in the first game that ended with a win for Finland, they will go up against Russia, who are pointless after an uninspired performance against Belgium that saw them lose 3-0 at home. While Russia were one of the favorites to qualify from the group stages, they now have to win this game in order to have any chance of progressing to the knock-out phase of Euro 2020.
Finland on the other hand, will look to be the surprise of the tournament, with them already having three points as well as a solid defense. If they give a defensive performance like the one they gave against Denmark, they might actually have a chance of getting a point or even winning the match and progressing to the next stage. Now that the stage is set, let us get down to all the nitty gritty details about the match.
Russia will meet its Scandinavian neighbors for the first time since 2009, to battle for the 2nd place position in Group B. but let’s first examine the two teams’ situation and how they arrived at the Euros:
Finland makes its debut in European Championship, having qualified from Group J, alongside Italy, in the Euro 2020 qualifying stages. With a group of players that have played alongside each other for almost a decade, spearheaded by their star player,Teemu Pukki
, the Finns look to be the new Iceland of the Euros!
They managed to win 6 out of their 10 matches in the qualifying stages with Pukki scoring 10 goals and being of the top goal scorers behind Harry Kane (12) and Cristiano Ronaldo (11). This is perhapsFinland
’s best team ever and they will look to build on their win against Denmark, in a game that will be remembered for entirely other reasons.
and Denmark are the two hosts of this group which will work in their favor, especially against Finland. however, their performance in the first game at home left a lot to be desired but they will be looking to get back on track by beating Finland at St. Petersbourg.
The Russians qualified for the Euros with 24 points as the Group I runner-up, a group that interestingly had Belgium in it as well.Artem Dzuba
was their top goalscorer with 9 goals. although they have had their ups and downs in the past 18 months, they will be looking to replicate their performances from the qualifying stages and once again finish as runner-up behind Belgium.
Now let’s move onto the Finland and Russia’s current form and their squad situation:
Finland has been having a tough time of it recently, especially in preparations for Euro 2020. They have won 6 and lost 6 of their last 14 games and had been winless in their last 6 games before meeting Denmark. Although they were extremely successful in UEFA Nations League B, by winning their group.
While Finland lost both of their friendly games in preparation for the Euros toSweden
and Estonia, right before the tournament, their win against Denmark will give them the confidence and more than enough chance to actually fight against Russia to quality from this stage.
Russia have experienced a lot of ups and downs in the past two years. They have lost 5 and won 5 in their last 15 matches, which is pretty indicative of a team that has failed to establish any sort of rhythm.
Their first game against the Belgians at home was also nothing to be inspired by. Cherchesov’s men gave a lackluster performance which made everyone rethink Russia’s chances of actually qualifying to the next stage. But will the home advantage be enough to galvanize them for a win against Finland?! We’ll have to wait and see.
Despite them being neighbors, Finland and Russia have faced each other only 4 times in the past, with Russia winning every one of those games. In fact, Russia has only lost once in the 18 matches they have played against their neighbors and that dates back to the 1912 Olympic games.
But Finland has come a long way since their last meeting with Russia, which was at the 2010 World Cup qualifying rounds in 2009, where they lost 3-0. Finland’s recent form have been abysmal, with them only winning once in the last 6 games, while Russia has fared better winning 3 of their last 6 matches.
Markku Kanerva will field Finland with a 3-5-2 formation that will look to stay compact and solid while defending and hurt Russia on the counter. They suffered no injuries in the first game and have a full squad going into the game. Finland’s possible starting line-up will be: Hradecky; O’Shaughnessy, Arajuuri, Toivio; Uronen, Kamara, Sparv, Lod, Raitala; Pukki, Pohjanpalo.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s men will probably be in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Dzyuba spearheading the attack. Russia’s veteran left-back,Yuri Zhirkov
, is set to miss his final international tournament with Russia after suffering an injury in the first game. Andrey Mostovoy and Daler Kuzyaev are also a doubt for the game. Without them Russia’s possible starting line-up will consist of: Shunin; Diveev, Dzhikiya, Semenov; Mário Fernandes, Zobnin, Ozdoev, Karavaev; Miranchuk, Golovin; Dzyuba.
Teemu Pukki is Finland’s main man. The striker has had great success at England with Norwich, twice winning the promotion to the Premier League and impressing on his Premier League debut season but he will likely be surrounded at all times by Russian defenders. Perhaps the real star of Finland’s first match, who will certainly have a big role to play in this match, was Bayer Leverkusen's goalkeeper,Lukas Hradecky
. If Finland is to get a point or even win this game, Hradecky must be on his A-game.
Artem Dzyuba will be the one to watch in Russia’s squad. Dzuyba is aZenit
player, who just won his 3rd consecutive league title with Zenit as well as being Russian Premier League’s top goal scorer twice in a row. For Russia to have any chance of progressing through the group stages, Dzyuba, who has the advantage of playing at Zenit's home stadium, must finally deliver as Russia’s main source of goals and captain, if.
While Finland won its first game against Denmark, albeit in strange circumstances, they were always the weakest team in Group B. with Russia being strong favorites to qualify as the 2nd team of the group and with them having players like Dzyuba andGolovin
as well as having the advantage of playing at home, they are likely to win this game. But Finland’s win in the first game will make their resolve stronger to at least get a draw out of this game and actually qualify for the next round.
Netherlands’ Danny Makkelie, who aside from being a referee is also a police inspector, will be refereeing the match. The 38-year-old Makkelie has been FIFA listed since 2011 and he has had experience refereeing the Europa League final as well as being the video assistant referee on the 2018 World Cup final plus 2016 and 2018 Club World Cup finals.
Makkelie is accompanied by his team of compatriots, Hessel Steegstra and Jan de Vries, as Assistant referees on the pitch with the fourth and fifth officials being the Romanian team of Istvan Kovacs and Vasile Marinescu. Pol van Boekel from Netherlands will be serving as the match’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and he is accompanied by Kevin Blom, Benjamin Pagès and Jérôme Brisard.
Date: Wednesday, June 16
Kick off Time: 15 pm GMT
Location: Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia
TV: BBC One (UK), ESPN (US)
Live stream: FuboTV
Odds: Russia +500; Draw +275; Finland -164 (Bet365)