Lviv (Ukraine): Russia have matured since their Euro 2008 semi-final appearance, becoming a team to be feared at this year`s tournament, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko has said.
"We were the dark horses in 2008 and very few people believed in us," the 30-year-old striker, now at Lokomotiv Moscow, said on the website of his new team.
"Now we have serious experience, we have a robust team that people have begun to fear."
Compared to the team that beat the Netherlands 3-1 in extra time in the 2008 quarterfinal, Russia have become "wider and more solid," said Pavlyuchenko, who scored the opener in that game and was named in the 23-man squad of the tournament.
Russia kick off their Group A campaign late Friday against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw, before going on to play co-hosts Poland Tuesday and Greece June 16 in Warsaw.
Pavlyuchenko joined Lokomotiv from Tottenham in the winter transfer window after three and a half seasons in London.
He has scored twice in nine games for Lokomotiv, who finished a disappointing seventh in the Russian Premier League, leading to the dismissal of coach Jose Couceiro.