Euro 2020, Finland vs Russia: 3 key battles to watch out for in FIN vs RUS: The second round of fixtures at Euro 2020 begin on Wednesday as Finland welcome the challenge of Russia in Group B. Following their surprise win over Denmark, the Finns will be eager to add to their reputation.
Russia are in need of a win to stay in the hunt for the knockout stages after being dismantled by Belgium in their opening game. It goes without saying that there is a lot riding on the encounter for both teams.
Ahead of the hugely-significant Group B clash at Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, we take a look at the three key battles that could decide the outcome of the game.
Euro 2020, Finland vs Russia: 3 key battles to watch out for in FIN vs RUS:
Euro 2020, Finland vs Russia: Key Battle 1
Artem Dzyuba vs Lukas Hradecky
Russia captain Dzyuba is expected to lead the attack for his team and would be raring to get off the mark in the tournament. In all honesty, Dzyuba and his troops will know they can’t linger too much on the comprehensive defeat to Belgium since it almost seemed inevitable even before a ball was kicked.
However, the meeting with Finland is a real opportunity to cash in. If Russia are to bounce back, it will have to be in this game. As such, a lot of hopes will be pinned on Dzyuba to deliver the goals.
It is far from straightforward though, especially considering the display from Hradecky against Denmark. The Finland custodian was at the peak of his powers and made a few excellent saves before saving a penalty to deny Denmark an equaliser.
Euro 2020, Finland vs Russia: Key Battle 2
Joel Pohjanpalo vs Georgiy Dzhikiya
26-year-old Pohjanpalo made history in the opening game by netting Finland’s first-ever goal in a major tournament. The striker sneaked in between two defenders before sending a downward header that was helped on its way into the back of the net by Kasper Schmeichel.
Owing to his ability to position himself at the right place at the right moment, Russia will have to be wary of Pohjanpalo. Spartak Moscow centre-back Dzhikiya is expected to be handed the duty of keeping the Finn at check and will know the margin for error is very less.
It will be a completely different experience compared to dealing with Romelu Lukaku the other night for Dzhikiya, but he has to adapt quickly to come out on top.
Euro 2020, Finland vs Russia: Key Battle 3
Aleksandr Golovin vs Tim Sparv
Unlike the last game, Golovin is expected to enjoy more of the ball against Finland. That in itself will provide a boost to Russia owing to his creative genius in the free role behind the striker.
If Finland are to disrupt Russia, they will have to prevent Golovin from dictating terms. Sparv, who did a commendable job against Denmark, will know he has to get tight to the Russian and track him with keen detail.
Golovin is eager to make an impression again after the highs of the 2018 World Cup and this game could be the ideal platform for him to express his qualities.