Melancholy is a big part of the Russian nature. It is a theme that runs deep in Russian literature, music, and films. Whether it is Dostoeyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker or Sergei Rachmaninoff's Third Symphony. In ice skating and gymnastics, melancholy outscores vivaciousness. Hence, the Irina Slutskaya and Yevgeni Plyshenko's will win.
This melancholy is evident in the Russian feeling towards their national team. Russian football has not done very much in the international stage since the breakup of the USSR in 1992. The team qualified for two World Cups (1994, 2002) and two European Championships (1996, 2004), but failed to get out of the first round each time.
Guus Hiddink has to overcome this mealncholy to the Russian team and make it a team that the people believe in. This is not so much as teaching skills or strategy to a team. The USSR team was used to winning its fair share of accolades. The Russian Football League is very competitive and has good clubs in CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, and Zenit St. Petersburg. CSKA Moscow won the UEFA Cup in 2005 beating Sprting Lisbon 3-1. Stalwarts for their national teams like Nuno Maniche, Ivica Olic, Maksym Kalinichenko, Nemanja Vidic, Lee Ho, Vagner Love, Martin Jiranek, and Fernando Kavenaghi, are or have been part of the Russian league.
As the RIA Novosti opines "the community should assume a different approach to football. How can Russia dream of becoming a football empire if the performance of the national team leaves everyone indifferent, and the public, who cannot expect the team to win after the notorious draw with Slovakia, crack jokes and return to their daily routines as if nothing happened? Or when mediocre TV shows leave World Cup broadcasts far behind, according to TV ratings? Or when football pitches are used for any purpose except sport? Hopefully, the PR move to appoint Hiddink will pay off, and people will be more interested in the performance of our team and truly support it. "
Russia starts its campaign in the Hiddink era against Latvia, August 16th
This is the squad for the match against Latvia on 16 August 2006.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev, Dmitry Borodin, Aleksandr Makarov
Defenders: Aleksei Berezutski, Vassili Berezutski, Sergey Ignashevich, Denis Kolodin, Aleksandr Anyukov, Yevgeny Aldonin
Midfielders: Vladislav Radimov, Igor Semshov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Marat Izmaylov, Dmitri Loskov, Andrey Arshavin
Forwards: Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Dmitri Sychev, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Pavel Pogrebnyak
Dmitri Sychev is also called the Russian "Michael Owen" and Igor Akinfeev is one of the best talents in goal at a world level.