The Russia striker Alan Dzagoev has appealed to the country's fans to behave themselves at Saturday's final group game against Greece so as not to invoke the six-point suspended sentence Uefa imposed on Dick Advocaat's side following violent conduct at the opening match against the Czech Republic.
Any possible points deduction would only apply to the qualification cycle for the 2016 European Championship, but it is still not something Russia can afford to take lightly. "We don't want to go six points down before we start, we cannot afford that sort of penalty in the next qualification," Dzagoev said. "I don't know exactly what the problem has been but I would urge the Russian supporters to be more calm, but still support the team."
Advocaat bristled when he was asked questions about Russian fans' behaviour, but he has been doing that all week. He insisted that Russia ought to be allowed to concentrate on the game against Greece, which he believes may not be the formality many have been predicting. "We need to play better than we did against Poland," the Russian head coach said. "We need to keep the ball more and use it better, above all we need to win or else things will not look good for us."
In admitting that his side were "not that great" in their last match, Advocaat did not spare his captain from criticism. "Andrey Arshavin gave the ball away a lot and in the second half it was clear he was tired," he said. "But he's my captain and he was also our best attacker, the guy most likely to do something with the ball, so I kept him on. He's the sort of player who can make a difference in a game, someone capable of scoring a goal out of nothing."
With one point from two games and defeats in their last two competitive games against Russia, Greece are not expected to make life too difficult for Advocaat's players, though Fernando Santos has promised his side will depart from theiur usual defensive style. "We will have to, because a win is the only result that is any use to us," the Greece coach said. "We will still be trying to keep a clean sheet, because we cannot afford to concede goals eaither, but the key to this game is having the confidence to try and score goals ourselves. If we don't do that we will be out, so we have to strive to win. We truly believe we have the capacity to do so, and we believe that in spite of Russia being favourites we can be the ones celebrating at the end."