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26 Jun, 2008 14:07

Bring it on! Russia ready for Spanish in semis

Russia’s footballers are in action again on Thursday, knowing that victory against Spain in Vienna will secure them a place in the final of Euro-2008. The winners will face Germany for the title. Thousands of Russian fans are in Austria for the sell-out g

After a stunning win over the Netherlands at the weekend, the stakes are now ever higher for Russia. A win against Spain on Thursday, who beat them 4-1 in the group stages, will give Guus Hiddink’s players a shot at Germany in Sunday’s final.

The team's surprising success has captured the imagination of the general public in Austria and Switzerland. Everywhere you go, people are warming to Guus Hiddink and his young Russian squad.

Go into any sporting goods shop in Vienna and there’s no shortage of merchandise for Spain or Germany. But try getting hold of a Russia shirt. No chance – they’re all sold out.

And it’s not just the fans who’ve taken a liking to Russia. Most sports journalists came into the tournament giving Guus Hiddink’s team little-to-no chance. Now though, they’re saying the Russians are the team to beat.

“The best team we’ve seen so far. It’s as simple as that. They’re a huge surprise,” said Paddy Agnew, Italian football correspondent.