Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
Back of the Net
The Back of the Net team on Russia's 4-1 opening night victory over the Czech Republic
In a performance that was has been praised as devastatingly efficient and historically appropriate, a merciless Russia stormed to victory against the Czech Republic, crushing their opponents’ resistance with a sustained assault that bodes ominously for all who would oppose them.
“They denied us any freedom in our own territory,” said rueful Czech manager Michal Bílek, who admitted that his side did not have enough firepower to cope with Russia’s tactical superiority.
“We didn’t realise that by defying the Russians and trying to open things up, we would only provoke them,” he said. “They laid siege to our area before eventually breaking our spirits with overwhelming force. It was pitiless.”
“The worst part, though,” Bílek continued, “Is that the rest of Europe just watched.”
Russia, meanwhile, can be satisfied at having given the Czechs a brutal lesson.
“We like to be in control,” said Russian captain Andrei Arshavin. “We knew that if we gave them time and space, they could hurt us, so it was vital we cut off their supply lines and bombarded their goal early doors.”
“If we’d shown any signs of weakness,” he added, “Poland might have got some funny ideas. And we don’t want that happening again.”
Goals from Alan Dzagoev and Roman Shirokov put the Russians in a commanding position, but Vaclav Pilar popped up deep in enemy territory to pull a goal back for the Czechs. In response, Russia took off the underperforming Alexander Kerzahakov and threw on Roman Pavlyuchenko, who created a second for Dzagoev before scoring a fourth.
“Fortunately, just when it looked like they might do something, we had some big guns we could bring on,” Arshavin said. “Just like the old days.”
Russia will look to confirm their position as the group’s dominant power against the Poles on Tuesday. They will be without Kerzhakov, however, who has paid for his wasteful performance by being arrested, and faces an extended period on the sidelines in Siberia.
Editor's note: this isn't a serious accusation and all quotes are fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.
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