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MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. The Russian national football team will play one of its friendly matches, scheduled ahead of the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup in France, one day earlier of the scheduled calendar in June, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday.
Last Tuesday, Mutko announced that besides a scheduled friendly match with France in late March, the Russian national football team will play another friendly that month.
"We opted for the second friendly on June 5, but our opponent, one of the national teams from the British Isles, wants to hold the fixture on June 4," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, told journalists.
"It seems that we [Russia] were placed among the weak opponents on the table of friendlies," Mutko said. "Some of the teams wish to get inspired before the European tournament and clinch victories in friendly matches."
The friendly fixture between Russia and France has been scheduled for March 29 and will be a part of Russia’s preparations for the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup. The match will be held at the 80,000-seat Stade de France stadium in French Saint-Denis.
The Russian national football squad also plans to play two more friendly matches in early June during the team’s abroad training sessions and the provisional dates are June 1 and 5.
The 2016 UEFA Euro Cup will be held in France between June 10 and July 10 with matches to be played in 10 different locations, namely in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.
A total of 24 European national teams qualified for the Euro Cup final tournament in 2016, after the contestants’ format, which was used since 1996, was decided to be extended from 16 to 24 teams.
The contesting teams were divided into six groups and Russia was placed into Group B, sharing it with the teams from England, Wales and Slovakia.
The Russian national team won the ticket for the championship in France almost at the very last moment.
Russia, which was in the third position of the qualifying Group G after defeat to Austria in mid-June, went on a winning streak in four remaining fixtures and finished the qualifiers for the major European tournament in the second place of the group earning a direct pass to the 2016 Euro Cup.
Following the defeat to Austria in mid-June the Russian national football team’s coaching staff saw a major overhaul. The previously Italian-dominated staff was dismissed along with former Head Coach Fabio Capello and Russia’s Leonid Slutsky was appointed in early August to take the helm of the team.
Slutsky managed to guide the national team to victories in all matches under his management starting with 1-0 victory over Sweden on September 5.
The new coach’s inaugural match against the Swedish squad followed with a crushing 7-0 victory over Liechtenstein three days later and then he took the team to victories over Moldova (2-1) on October 9 and Montenegro (2-0) on October 12.