Arshavin fails to spark Russia attack at Euro 2012
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -Andrei Arshavin has been a hit and a miss in Russia's two matches at the European Championship.
The Russia captain set up rising star Alan Dzagoev's goal in the 1-1 draw with Poland in Group A on Tuesday with a curling free kick. But he failed to make inroads in the second half when Russia looked to him to spark a recovery following Jakub Blaszczykowski's equalizer.
Playing wide on the left, Arshavin repeatedly ran into a wall of Poland defenders and couldn't seem to find his teammates.
On his official Twitter feed Wednesday, Arshavin blamed fatigue, saying the match was "very exhausting.''
Coach Dick Advocaat defended his 31-year-old captain after the match, although he conceded he might have been worn out in the second half.
"I'm tired from time to time, too,'' he said.
What a difference a few days make. In Russia's first match, Arshavin tirelessly marshaled the attack that cut through the Czech Republic almost at will.
Arshavin was one of the stars of Euro 2008, storming into the Russia side for the final group match after missing the first two through suspension.
He scored against Sweden and then again in the team's 3-1 extra-time defeat of the Netherlands in their quarterfinal in Basel. His team then lost to eventual champion Spain in the semifinals.
That tournament confirmed the potential that major European club scouts had already spotted as Arshavin led his club Zenit St. Petersburg to the 2008 UEFA Cup title.
It earned him a move to Arsenal, but despite some amazing performances - including all four goals in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool in 2009 - he eventually drifted out of contention for a first-team spot.
He scored 30 goals in four seasons - the same number teammate Robin van Persie scored last season alone in the Premier League.
Arshavin struggled last season and was booed when coming on as a substitute at home against Manchester United in January, prompting coach Arsene Wenger to arrange a loan move back to Zenit.
"I just felt he needed to play. When you are 30 and you do not play regularly, you drop your form and when you come on every time you have to produce something special,'' coach Arsene Wenger said of the move. "At that age it is very difficult. I felt he just needed a bit of confidence to play again.''
The move appeared to work. Arshavin looks fit and keen and has often been threatening for Russia, with three assists so far in the tournament before Tuesday's disappointing second half.
Advocaat has no doubt his captain, who has 17 goals in 73 internationals, can still lead Russia. The team faces Greece on Saturday in its final Group A match.
"He was our most dangerous player,'' Advocaat said after the Poland match. "He was the sharpest with the ball. I did think about taking him off, but then he'd do something positive.''
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