On Wednesday at the Stadium of Light (Estadio da Luz) in Lisbon, the Russian national football team will play its second Euro 2004 match. Georgi Yartsev's team will face the Portuguese, the hosts of the tournament.
Both teams lost their first matches in the tournament: Russia lost to Spain, 0-1, and the Portuguese lost a sensational match to the Greeks, 1-2.
Today's game will be a deciding game for both teams. A draw would be an adequate result for the teams, as it would give both the Russians and the Portuguese hope. However, a defeat would practically deprive either team a chance to advance to the quarterfinals.
It will not be easy for the Russians.
First, the fans will be supporting the Portuguese team, which is coached by Scolari. Second, after the first match against Spain, the Russian team lost essential players. Defender Roman Sharonov will miss the game because he was suspended after being sent off during the first game with Spain. This will be a difficult loss for the Russia defense. Yartsev said that the most probable replacement for Sharonov is defender Alexei Bugaev from Moscow Torpedo.
On Tuesday, it was announced that attacking midfielder Alexander Mostovoi was expelled from the team for criticizing the coach's training regime. In truth, the veteran will be easily replaced with a midfielder that follows Yartsev's direction. Dmitri Loskov, Vladislav Radimov, Igor Semshov will be in the midfield.
This will be the first time the Russian team will face Portugal's team, however the Soviet team played the Portuguese four times. In theses matches, the Portuguese won three times and lost once. In 1983, the Soviet team defeated the Portuguese, 5-0, in a Euro 84 qualifying match in Moscow.
In the reciprocal game, the legendary Eusebio's compatriots took revenge with minimal score and won their group. The Soviet team did not go to the European Championship that year.
In the two other meetings the Portuguese were also stronger: 1-0 in a friendship match and 2-1 in the 1996-World Cup.