Russia received a lucky draw by being placed in Group A with Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic.
They didn't get drawn in Group B with Germany, Holland and Portugal. They don't have to face Spain and Italy like they would have had to if they were in Group C. And they don't have to face England or France in Group D.
There's no reason that Russia can't win all three matches it plays in the group stage, and it would be a disappointment if the team was unable to win at least two. They rode their defense to this point, and they figure to do the same for the entirety of the tournament.
Dirk Advocaat's boys allowed just four goals in the 10 qualifying matches, and didn't lose a match in their five road contests. That'll be a huge confidence booster heading into the European Championships, as they will be in an unfamiliar environment.
Of course, everybody else will be in uncharted territories (with the exception of Poland and Ukraine), but it's always good for a team to have a bunch of road wins under their belt.
The Russian offense will be propelled by Andrey Arshavin, the 31-year-old attacking midfielder who has long been a staple on the front lines of this Russian roster. Despite all his talents, Arshavin sometimes appears disengaged from the task at hand, and Russia will need him to be completely focused if they are going to have an impact on this tournament.
Paired with Arshavin up front is Alan Dzagoev. He needs space to have any effect on the game, and he should be able to get some with Arshavin to his left. If he can elude the defenders, he'll be just one Arshavin through ball away from finding the back of the net.
Who will win Group A?
As for the rest of the group, Poland hasn't played a competitive match in two years after qualifying automatically for the tournament as the co-host. The team drew with France, Italy and Portugal in friendlies, but doesn't have lot of depth. They're likely to finish in the bottom half of the group.
The Greeks play a painfully boring style of football. They're more interested in keeping their opponents from scoring than making chances for themselves. That can easily translate to "they're more interested in playing not to lose than playing to win."
The Czech Republic will be the team fighting with Greece for the runner-up spot in the group. It needed a controversial penalty call to sneak by Scotland to grab a draw, followed by a 3-0 aggregate win over Montenegro. If they play like they did in their loss to Hungary or like they did in their draw with Ireland, the Russians are going to have a field day.
Russia is exciting, they play with flair and their attack is relentless when firing on all cylinders. Don't expect the three other teams in the group to be able to play anywhere near their level. They should be able to advance easily.