WATCH: Russian fans GATECRASH Finnish party in rowdy scenes ahead of Euro 2020 game in St. Petersburg
Russia play Finland in a crunch Group B game hoping to keep their chances alive of qualifying for the knockout stages of the tournament, having suffered a 3-0 battering by Belgium in their opening game.
The Finns meanwhile are in a more comfortable position after their shock win against Denmark in Copenhagen, and know that even a draw against Russia would see them take a big step towards the last 16 in their maiden appearance at a major tournament finals.
Ahead of the game in St. Petersburg, groups of fans from the neighboring nations were soaking up the sun as they gathered in the bars around the Krestovsky Stadium.
One particularly large ensemble of Finns were heard going through a rendition of their favorite chants in a local bar – including one which salutes their nation’s “saunas, booze and axes.”
But the Finns didn’t go unchallenged with their chanting as a group of around two-dozen hardy Russians marched right into the midst of the opposition ranks.
Singing their own famous folk song ‘Katyusha’, the Russian presence sparked intense booing before a shouting match broke out.
It was a footballing equivalent of Eurovision as both sets of fans tried to outdo each other, but the scenes ended peacefully when the Russian supporters later exited the bar, sharing fist-bumps with the Finns on their way out.
“They were not violent,” a group of Finnish fans later told RT Sport. “But we won [the chanting competition].”
A large column of Finnish fans then made their way to the stadium chanting more about their nation’s three main virtues along the way.
After facing Russia the Finns will be back in St. Petersburg to close their Group B campaign against Belgium on June 21.
Russia is allowing 50% capacity at the 67,000-seater Krestovsky Stadium for matches at Euro 2020, where it will host seven games in total, including one quarter-final.