Saturday, February 4, 2023

Russia captain Artem Dzyuba surprised by Scotland’s lack of faith

Scottish FootballNational TeamRussia captain Artem Dzyuba surprised by Scotland’s lack of faith
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Russia captain Artem Dzyuba is surprised to see a lack of faith in Scotland ahead of their meeting in Moscow.

Expectations are low in Scotland ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier at the Luzhniki Stadium after Russia won 2-1 at Hampden last month.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke wrote off chances of automatic qualification after Scotland lost 4-0 to Belgium days later.

The Scots have lost four of their six qualifiers, while Russia have won their last five and will qualify with three games to spare if they win and Cyprus and Kazakhstan draw with each other earlier on Thursday.

Scotland have injury problems in central defence and up front but Dzyuba expects a tough assignment.

When asked whether complacency would be a bigger danger than Scotland, the striker said: “It’s a little weird that you don’t have that much faith in your team. It reminds me of the situation where Russian fans didn’t have much faith in their team before the World Cup.

“Nothing terrible has happened. The loss to Kazakhstan was a bit surprising but it is a difficult place for anyone to go, partly because of the artificial pitch.

“You have excellent players playing for your side, for clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United.

“Initially Scotland was considered one of the most promising teams in the group. After this one defeat against Russia, you lost faith in your side. That’s a little bit surprising.”

The Zenit St Petersburg forward added: “We take Scotland seriously. We believe it is a tough opponent and we are going to give 100 per cent in this game.

“We are not Spain, Netherlands or Portugal: we can’t play opponents without proper preparation. We are going to be 100 per cent up for this game.”

Scotland boss Steve Clarke stressed there was no leeway for blooding new caps in Russia after losing yet another player to injury.

Kenny McLean has joined Norwich team-mate Grant Hanley and his former Aberdeen colleague Ryan Jack in dropping out of the squad.

Clarke is building for the play-offs in March but he will not sacrifice the potential to get results to experiment.

“No free hits,” Clarke said at the Luzhniki Stadium. “I would like to pick up 12 points from the remaining four games. Obviously it’s a tough one in Russia but there’s no free hits.

“We owe it to the thousand or so Tartan Army fans that are coming over as well to put on a good performance and hopefully go away with three points.

“Every match you go into you want to achieve the maximum, which is three points. I want a good performance level, I want a good performance level in the next four matches. My belief is always that if your performance level is good enough, the points will follow.

“It’s always disappointing when you lose players from the squad and overnight we have lost Kenny McLean as well.

“It’s another blow but a great chance for someone else. It’s part and parcel of international football.”

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