The Russians, once again led my the supreme playmaker Arshavin made mince meat of the Dutch. He controlled the pace of the game and beat the Dutch in their own game, the fast counter attacks. Holland had a match to forget as the passing and movement looked suspect right from the start. The Russians on the other hand looked lively even in the second half of Extra time. If they had converted atleast half their chances and Van Der Saar did not make a few outstanding saves, the scoreline could have been 6-1 or something, such was the dominance of the Russians.
It would be fair to say that Guus Hiddink can transform any half-decent team into world beaters. The Dutch after beating Italy and France quite convincingly were all set for the finals before they confronted the Russians. Ever organised, committed and with a sense of adventure, hallmark of every Hiddink team the Russians went about methodically breaking down the Dutch. It was won tactically as well as with flair by the Russian think tank. If Pavyluchenko can convert some of the decent chances that he gets, the Russians will win more comfortably. He does do all the hard work and score off some real difficult chances. In Zhirkov, they have a full back who stays in the opposition half and box most of the time, delivering some wonderfull crosses and passes.
But their Talisman is the one and only Andrei Arshavin. What a revelation he has been. You would wonder what this talented player was doing till last year. I first noticed him after my friend Vicky, asked me to check him out in the UEFA cup final for Zenit. He created one and scored another in the final. He missed the first two matches due to suspension but has been the most outstanding player in the last two matches for in any jersey in Russia’s last two matches. He plays behind the striker, his movement is impeccable, wriggles out of tight situation in ease, has the vision to give those defence-splitting passes, can orchestrate attacking move after move, can score some awesome goals and is a constant pain for the opposition defence. He has been the best player on display in this Euro so far though he has played only 2 matches.
This match should have been a semifinal because the Dutch played some wonderful football in their group stages and it is a shame that they are out in the quarters. If they had played any other team, they might have made it to the semis. Anyways, now I will support the Russians to win the championship and hopefully, it should be a final against the Germans.