Andrey Arshavin has not had a good time in the English Premier League in the season that just ended. The Russian captain fell out of love with the Arsenal faithful and more crucially, with Arsene Wenger. In a bid to ensure top condition for Euro 2012, Arshavin returned to Zenit St. Petersburg for regular football. That proved important in his conditioning, allowing him to enter Euro 2012 at peak form.
Although there are many match winners in this Russia team (Alan Dzagoev is the much talked about player, Igor Akinfeev is a previous Manchester United target), Andrey Arshavin was always going to be the star man for Russia. He proved that in his performance against the Czech Republic with his two assists and excellent contribution.
He clearly looks back to his best, with complete focus in his eyes. That bodes well for both Advocaat and Russia in general. An enigmatic talent at worse, but an inspirational leader at his best, Arshavin should carry Russia far in this tournament.
Much like Poland in their opening match, Russia attacked with fluidity and that caught their opposition off-guard. The Zenit connection worked very well, as Arshavin, Shirokov, Kerzhakov and Zyryanov all seemed to have that "club" understanding. Similarly, with six Liverpool players in the England squad, maybe the same club mentality will help England advance past the group stage.
With this crucial opening win, Russia has made progress to the quarterfinals that much easier. This emphatic win against the Czechs was arguably Russia's hardest match in the group.
The media also has been raving about the Russian captain's majestic performance.