Criticism of Yartsev's training regime spells end of story for attacking midfield player.
On the eve of the crucial second game with Portugal, Alexander Mostovoi has been expelled from the team after criticising the training regime of Georgi Yartsev. He will be substituted in a midfield which should include Dmitri Loskov, Vladislav Radimov and Igor Semshov, in a game which Russia hopes to draw at least.
Mostovoi, the veteran attacking midfield player who has already played in Portugal (SL Benfica) criticized Yartsev for pushing the players too hard before their game with Spain, claiming that "We were completely broken. I do not think that Spain was pushed as hard as we were", adding that "I do not think we will qualify now".
He was dropped after making these declarations to the Spanish Press (he plays in Celta de Vigo). The Press spokesperson attached to the Russian squad explained the expulsion of Mostovoi by the fact that his declarations undermine team spirit.
At 19.45 GMT, Russia and Portugal kick off in the crucial second match in group A in the Estadio da Luz, home of Benfica, in Lisbon, after having lost their opening games against Spain (0-1) and Greece (1-2). A draw will keep the hopes of either team alive before their final matches on Sunday (Spain-Portugal in Lisbon and Russia-Greece in Faro), while a defeat will practically end any chance of qualifying for the second round.
It is the first time that the two teams will meet, although the Soviet Union played four games against Portugal, winning one by 5-0 in Moscow in the qualifying phase of the Euro 1984 and losing the other three, two by 1-0 and one by 2-1.
Portugal kick off the firm favourites. Their manager Felipe Scolari won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and counts on the support of the home crowd.
Secondly, Russia's injury-hit defence suffered further with the sending-off of Roman Sharonov against Spain. Yartsev has indicated that he will be substituted by Aleksei Bugaev. Thirdly, the temperature is set to reach around 35 degrees Celsius.
Before the game, there will be a friendly match in the Restelo Stadium, Lisbon, home of Belenenses Football Club, between two teams of Parliamentarians.