ZHIRKOV BACK TO HIS BEST

The former Chelsea and the Russian national team manager Guus Hiddink has said that he is extremely confident that the Russian winger Yuri Zhirkov will once again be playing at his best.

The Russian winger was recently signed by the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, who also managed to bring in the Dutch manager Guus Hiddink. Speaking after the 1-0 win over Alania Vladikavkaz, the former Chelsea manager said that he is extremely delighted to have Zhirkov in his team. He has identified him as one of the best left-sided midfielders in the world.

Even though Yuri Zhirkov spent most of his three seasons at the English club Chelsea as the backup for Ashley Cole, Hiddink reckons that Yuri Zhirkov can make it back to his best and is clearly showing signs of doing so. He has called the midfielder was one of the footballers with a proper knowledge about the game. Even though he has improved a lot since his arrival, the Dutchman has said that Zhirkov can improve even more provided he plays with a little more hard work. Since Hiddink arrived at the club, they have been an extremely good form.

They are currently top of the table with a two-point advantage over CSKA Moscow. “I do not want to single anyone out in particular but I think Zhirkov is progressing well. I think he has done a fantastic job until now although he can play harder, I know. And when he will find form, we will see the real Zhirkov. We were expecting a very difficult game with a team that plays with confidence at home and away. I think in the beginning of the match we surprised Alania with our good attack. We are happy with a good result,” said Hiddink. The club will now face Volga Nizhny Novgorod in the next match.

CAPELLO DROPS ZHIRKOV

The new Russian national team manager Fabio Capello has decided to drop the former Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov for his first match incharge of the Russian national team. Russia will be facing a friendly match against Ivory Coast in Moscow on August 15. This match coincides just before the start of the league season for most of the countries in Europe. Russia will be hoping to field a strong team for this match. It is thought that Fabio Capello will be making a lot of decisions regarding the performance of the team in this friendly because it will be followed by the World Cup qualifiers in September.

Russia recently appointed the former England manager Fabio Capello, who has been out of work since signing from his England managerial position back in March. The Italian is expected to be in charge of the national team until the 2014 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Brazil. The former Real Madrid manager has surprised everyone by naming the Arsenal winger Andrei Arshavin as the captain of the national team, despite the controversy surrounding the 30-year-old. One high-profile player to miss out from the squad is the former Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov.

Fabio Capello has made changes to the national team squad that failed to get past the group stages of the Euro 2012. A total of 24 players were part of the squad that failed at the Euro 2012. Only 15 players have made it into the squad for the friendly, thus showing that Capello is looking to bring in new players who are hungry to establish themselves at the international level. One of the interesting inclusions in the first team of the Russian national team in this match is the former Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who was left out of the Euro 2012 squad.

Greece vs. Russia Preview

The final round of group games begins on Saturday, with Group A leaders Russia facing Euro 2004 winners Greece in Warsaw. Dick Advocat’s side need just a point to guarantee qualification to the semi-finals, whilst victory would ensure they win the group outright.

The Russians won their opening game convincingly, before drawing with co-hosts Poland on Tuesday; a result which stretched their unbeaten run to sixteen internationals.

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw when they last met in a friendly in November. Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder Roman Shirokov gave Russia an early lead before Panathanikos’s Konstantinos Katsouranis equalised on the hour mark.

Striker Alan Dzagoev is once again set to lead the line for Russian following his three goals in his sides opening two matches. The CSKA Moscow man is priced at 9.0 (8/1) with Bet Victor to finish the tournament as top scorer.

Russia go into the game as odds-on favourites, with Paddy Power offering the best price of (3/4). Greece are 5.5 (9/2) with Stan James whilst the draw is (14/5) with the same firm.

The Greeks drew the opening match of the tournament with co-hosts Poland, before falling to a 2-1 defeat to Czech Republic on Tuesday. Two goals in the first six minutes, from Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar were enough to give Michel Bilak’s men victory, with Fanis Gekas pulling one back for the Greeks in the second half. That consolation goal moved Gekas to joint third in the list of all time Greek goal scorers, and the 32 year old is 11.0 (10/1) with Ladbrokes to open the scoring here.

Tuesday’s defeat was only Greece’s second in twenty-three games, having gone through their qualification campaign unbeaten; only victory here will see Fernando Santos’s side into the quarter finals.

GULLIT BACKS CHELSEA

Former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit has said that Chelsea should be looking at the possibility of repeating the tactics they adopted against Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League in order to have any success of winning the competition itself when they face Bayern Munich in the final on Saturday.

It is undoubtedly going to be the biggest match of the history of the club given that most of the players of the current squad are expected to leave the club in the summer. Roberto di Matteo was speaking ahead of the match by saying that reaching a final is extremely difficult even for a young player and it becomes even tough for older players like Didier Drogba and John Terry.

Hence, he wants them to make maximum utilisation of the chance they have against Bayern Munich on Saturday. Chelsea have already had one final heartache back in 2008 when they lost to Manchester United on penalties. Chelsea were clearly the better team in the final, but could not get their hands on the trophy after striking the post three times in the match. However, many feel that this is the season Chelsea will finally achieve Champions League glory after many seasons of heartbreak.

“He was an organiser on the pitch. If you are a midfielder you need to think about defence and attack, you need to orchestrate. He was always in control. When he took over he started with the defence, he organised that first. That is like doing the foundations of house first. When they felt solid at the back then he thought about attacking. And he played with the best players, that is why they are winning. There’s no shame in how they played against Barcelona. No team outplays Barça, Barça had to find solutions, not Chelsea,” said Ruud Gullit.

HIDDINK HEADS TO ANZHI

Former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has agreed to take on the vacant managerial job at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala.

The club recently created headlines for signing a number of high profile players on huge contracts. The likes of Samuel Eto’o and Yuri Zhirkov have signed for Anzhi Makhachkala in the summer. Samuel Eto’o, by moving to Anzhi Makhachkala, is thought to have become the best-paid player in the world, while Yuri Zhirkov is thought to be on a contract worth around £ 120,000 per week. Still, the club have severely underperformed when it comes to the league.

As a result, the club recently sacked its manager. A number of rumours have been floating around that former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink would be appointed as the new manager. Guus Hiddink had just resigned from his job as the Turkish national team manager after a poor spell. However, it seems that the Russian billionaire seems to be trusting the wits of the Dutchman, who performed quite exceptionally during his time at Chelsea. Even though he was their only for a few months, Guus Hiddink won the FA Cup with Chelsea. No, he will be hoping to bring the Champions League to Russia.

It is thought that Guus Hiddink will be running around € 8 million per year, which makes him one of the best paid managers in the world. It is expected that the club will once again be signing a number of high profile players in the summer and in the January transfer window. The likes of Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou have been linked with moves to Russia. Salomon Kalou is out of contract at the end of the season, while Florent Malouda has found it difficult to get into the Chelsea team after the arrival of Juan Mata.