Euro 2020 team profile: Group B – Finland and Russia
Head coach: Markku Kanerva (Finnish)
Captain: Tim Sparv
Most capped player: Jari Litmanen (137)
Top scorer: Jari Litmanen (32)
FIFA ranking: 54
European Championship appearances: 1 (this is their very first)
Best run: N/A
Group rivals: Belgium, Denmark, and Russia.
Key players: Teemu Pukki, Tim Sparv, Lukáš Hrádecký, Fredrik Jensen, Joel Pohjanpalo.
Status: The debutants have an undaunted task of dealing with European heavyweights, Belgium and Denmark, and Russia in group B. Finland is also one of the lowest-ranked nations in the finals and we should expect them to stand no chance.
They had a good qualifying record, winning 6 out of 10 games and not needing the playoffs to qualify, but it’ll be a great achievement if they can make it past the group stages by any means.
Verdict: Expect them to finish bottom of the group.
Head coach: Stanislav Cherchesov (Russian)
Captain: Artem Dyuba
Most capped player: Sergei Ignashevich (127)
Top scorer: Aleksandr Kerzhakov (30)
FIFA ranking: 38
European Championship appearances: 12 (first in 1960 as the Soviet Union)
Best run: Champions in 1960 (as the Soviet Union) and semi-finals in 2008 (as Russia)
Group rivals: Belgium, Denmark, and Finland.
Key players: Artem Dyuba, Aleksandr Golovin, Yuri Zhirkov, Mario Fernandes, Aleksei Miranchuk, Roman Zobnin, Denis Cheryshev, Roman Neustädter.
Status: One of the most stubborn national football teams in Europe. Russia had a great World Cup tournament in 2018 and with a fantastic qualifying record of 8 wins in 10 qualifying games, we can expect them to end their long winless streak of 5 Euro finals games without a win in this year’s finals.
The last win Russia recorded at a Euros tournament was a 4-1 drubbing of the Czech Republic in their opening game of Euro 2012.
Difficult to beat, they will fancy their chances against Belgium, Denmark, and Finland in group B.
Verdict: Fingers crossed.