Russia lack the pace to be a top team: Arshavin

Lviv (Ukraine): The Russians lack the pace to be considered Euro 2012 favourites, captain Andrei Arshavin said on Friday.

Dick Advocaat`s side kick-off their Group A campaign late Friday against the Czech Republic, and although they are reportedly at full strength, the 31-year-old forward warned that might not be enough.

"I think that our team lacks speed to be considered a favourite during this tournament," he was quoted as saying by the UEFA site.

Of the 16 teams at the tournament, only Ireland has an older average squad age as Russia carry over much the same squad core that took the country to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

Arshavin also warned that the peculiarities of the Russian character were another factor affecting the stability of the team.

"What lies in the Russian character, and why someone might consider us a dark horse, is that we can lose against every team and we can win against every team."
This might be hard to grasp for non-Russians, he said.

"It`s in the character of the Russian people that, when we gather our strength in our fist and we don`t have anywhere to retreat to, we can win against any team.

"But if we relax a bit and follow our feelings, we can lose to a very weak team. For a foreigner, it is difficult to understand; you need to live for some time in our country and only then you will understand it."

This is the Zenit St. Petersburg man`s first tournament as Russia captain, and he ended on a positive note.

"We`re also skilful and have been playing together for a long time.

"Also, most of the players have been playing together for Zenit, which means we can understand and help each other. On the pitch, we know each other's movements, and that has to be of benefit to us."

After the Czech game, Russia will play Poland on Tuesday and Greece on June 16.