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21 Jun, 2008 17:10

Russia leads 3-1 in quarter-final with Netherlands

Destiny beckons for Russia's national football team as they face the biggest game in the country's modern history. The tournament’s favourites, Netherlands, are their opponents in Euro 2008 quarter-finals in Switzerland'

It is the first time Guus Hiddink and his players have played outside of Austria in the tournament so far.

The problem for the Russians is that their team was the last to qualify for the knockout stages. And that has thrown fans into a frantic scramble to find accommodation in a city that has already been overrun.

For those persistent enough and rich enough, there are still a few beds to be found – but the price of laying your head on them won’t come cheap.

The result is a city that has virtually no Russians just a day before an historic match – the country’s first in the knock-out phase of a major tournament since the break-up of the USSR.

But it’s not only the Russians who are struggling. Anyone arriving in Basel before Saturday’s match will face a huge uphill struggle from the moment they arrive, in a city where rooms and match tickets are now at an all-time premium.

Time may be running out for the Russians, but a flood of late arrivals are expected in Basel just before kick-off. Russia’s fans are looking to emulate their heroes on the pitch by getting further than anyone expected.

Dutchman Hiddink is not worried about upsetting his countrymen should Russia win, and joked about the prospect at the pre-match press conference. He said he wants to become be the renegade of the year in Holland.

And, on the match itself, he added that he's scared to death because Holland is stronger and more experienced than Russia. 

“We’ll need to attack a lot, not to be afraid,” he underlined.