Michal Kadlec nets a penalty as the Czech Republic suffer a shock 2-1 defeat to Hungary. Roman Shirokov scores twice and provides an assist in Russia’s 3-0 win over Italy, while Andriy Yarmolenko sets up both Oleg Gusev’s goals as Ukraine lose their unbeaten run to Austria:
Czech Republic 1 Hungary2
Michal Bilek fielded Michal Kadlec at centre-half last night as the Czech Republic stumbled to an unexpected 2-1 loss to Hungary. With questions surrounding the heart of defence, Kadlec’s shift from left-back allowed David Limbersky a starting role, with the former partnering Tomas Sivok in the middle for the first half. Sivoc made way for Roman Hubnik after half-time, with Bilek keen to try out other permutations in his side’s final friendly before their opening group game against Russia next Friday. Priced at 5.5 in the McDonald’s game, Kadlec’s spot-kick duties have seen him snapped up by 8.3% of Fantasy managers and he served a reminder of his potential by slotting home from the spot on 25 minutes after Milan Baros had been fouled in the box. The Czech’s five game unbeaten run came to an end, though, after Adam Gyurcso slotted home the winner for Hungary with just a couple of minutes remaining.
Czech Republic Starting XI: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok (Hubnik 46), Kadlec, Limbersky; Plasil (Lafata 79), Jiracek (Hubschman 79); Rezek (Rajtoral 72), Kolar (Darida 61), Pilar; Baros (Pekhart 62).
Italy 0 Russia 3
With their Tuesday game against Luxembourg cancelled due to an earthquake, Italy were left with just last night’s game against Russia as part of their preparations. Cesare Prandelli started with a 4-3-1-2, lining up Riccardo Montolivo behind a front pair of Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano before moving to a 4-3-3 just before 70 minutes – Balotelli was shifted left, with Antonio Di Natale and Sebastiano Giovinco making up the new front line. At the back, Federico Balzaretti started at left-back before being replaced by Angelo Ogbonna, while Morgan De Sanctis hardly covered himself in glory in goal, producing an inept display after coming on for Gianluigi Buffon at half-time.
İtaly Starting XI: Buffon (De Sanctis 46); Maggio, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti (Ogbonna 53); De Rossi (Motta 61), Pirlo (Di Natale 69), Marchisio; Montolivo (Nocerino 61); Balotelli, Cassano (Giovinco 69).
Dick Advocaat gave each of his two main keepers 45 minutes apiece in the 3-0 win – Vyacheslav Malafeev was replaced by Igor Akinfeev at half-time but, with both impressing, the Russia boss may still have trouble picking his first-choice stopper. Aleksandr Anyukov and Marat Izmailov were both rested, with Advocaat refusing to take any risks on either player’s fitness, while Alan Dzagoev was handed his first start over the recent run of friendlies and seems fully recovered from a toe injury, lasting 85 minutes before making way for Aleksandr Kokorin.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov opening the scoring after being set up in the box by Roman Shirokov before the latter stole the show with his nation’s next two goals – priced at 6.0, Shirokov is sure to see a hike in ownership thanks to last night’s display, with just 7.1% of Fantasy managers currently snapping up his services. The 3-0 triumph means Russia have now recorded eight clean sheets in their last 10 matches, demonstrating their potential at the back ahead of the Group A clashes with Czech Republic, Poland and Greece.
Russia Starting XI: Malafeev (Akinfeev 46); Nababkin, İgnashevich, A.Berezutsky, Zhirkov (Kombarov 87); Zyryanov, Denisov, Shirokov; Dzagoev (Kokorin 85), Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 62), Arshavin.
Austria 3 Ukraine 2
Oleg Blokhin’s Ukraine side lost their six-match unbeaten run at the hands of Austria last night. Andriy Voronin and Marko Devic kept their places up front after the 4-0 midweek win over Estonia, though both were replaced by Andriy Shevchenko and Artem Milevskyi at half-time. Andriy Yarmolenko maintained his strong recent form by providing a pair of assists – both goals came courtesy of Oleg Gusev. The latter has now netted four times in the last three matches (including a couple of spot-kicks), though despite being classified as a midfielder in the McDonald’s game, is currently fielded as a right-back.
Blokhin handed Oleksandr Goryainov and Maksym Koval a half apiece between the sticks and has now given game time to all three of his keepers in the last couple of matches, with Andriy Patov playing 90 minutes against Estonia. The result means Ukraine have recorded just a single clean sheet in their last five friendlies, suggesting they may be a risky investment at the back, though they still offer plenty threat going forward, having netted at least twice in eight of their last nine matches.
Ukraine Starting XI: Goryainov (Koval 46); Gusev, Mikhalik, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy; Yarmolenko, Tymoschuk, Nazarenko (Rotan 63), Konoplyanka (Butko 59); Voronin, (Shevchenko 46) Devic (Milevskiy 46).