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Minister: Midfielders’ absence was crucial for Russian football team

June 02, 12:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"Any defeat is disappointing. However, we know that the team has a much greater potential. It is in the process of training. The absence of Dzagoyev and Shirokov were also felt," Vitaly Mutko said
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© Alexander Demianchuk/TASS

MOSCOW, June 2 /TASS/. The Russian national football team felt the absence of its midfielders, Roman Shirokov and Alan Dzagoyev, during a friendly match against the Czech Republic, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS.

The Russian team lost the friendly (1:2), which took place in Insbruck, Austria, on Wednesday. Roman Shirokov, the team’s captain, and his CSKA fellow club member Alan Dzagoyev did not play against the Czechs because of injuries.

"The result is disappointing but not alarming. I know that the boys were tired because they had trained with great physical exertion quite recently," Mutko said. "Any defeat is disappointing. However, we know that the team has a much greater potential. It is in the process of training. The absence of Dzagoyev and Shirokov were also felt," the Russian sports minister explained.

"It was a normal game, which took place as part of the training process. It was important for Slutsky [the coach] to see all the players in action what he did. The game was absolutely equal. At some moments, the Czechs were dominating but we seized the initiative," Mutko said.

He added that the team’s level would be assessed by results of the UEFA European Championship rather than by friendly matches. "We used to defeat Italy ahead of the Euro back in 2012. The Italians were tired [because of hard training] but we were in a state of euphoria. Later, the Italians reached the final while we had dropped out at much earlier stages. So, all these friendlies are just a stage of training for the main tournament. The UEFA Euro is the most important thing. We are going to make assessments proceeding from its results," Mutko said.

The Russian national football team will play another friendly match as part of preparations for the UEFA Euro 2016. The Russians will meet the Serb team in Monaco on June 5. The UEFA Euro 2016 will take place in France from June 10 to July 10. The teams of England, Wales and Slovakia will be Russia’s chief rival in Group B.

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