Euro 2012: Drop Aleksandr Kerzhakov to Ensure Russia's Success
On the opening day of the European Championships last week, amongst all the good play the Russians produced, one man stood out.
And on a day where a team has enjoyed a comprehensive 4-1 victory, you would stack your money against that being the number one choice striker.
After the Czech Republic were brushed aside, Aleksandr Kerzhakov was amazingly wasteful, putting the ball wide on occasions where it seemed easier to hit the target.
He also broke a record in that game last week, but not one he was hoping for heading into the tournament. His seven shots that were put wide were a European Championships record, so it is hard to see where these problems have come from.
His link up play was excellent, keeping with the rest of the squad.
Kerzhakov remained in sync with Andriy Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev, who were either side of a front three, to create problems throughout.
You also have to look beyond club form. Barring a brief stint at Sevilla, he has plundered goals everywhere he has been.
It seems it could just be a blip—one which continued into today's game against Poland.
Should Russia drop Kerzhakov?
Dick Advocaat can be admired for sticking with his man, if that's the case, but there can be no room for sentiment—he must utilise his squad to achieve success.
What didn't help his cause was Roman Pavlyuchenko entering the fray on the tournament's opening day and performing admirably. He helped set one up, before he hammered an unstoppable strike past Petr Cech to get on the score sheet.
Another man who must also be ruing his luck is Pavel Pogrebnyak, who enjoyed a stunning end to the season with Fulham.
With one group game left, Russia sits one point ahead of the Czech Republic in group A, and one win is necessary to ensure progress as group winners.
It seems that Advocaat has a dilemma on his hands: Try and play Kerzhakov into form, or say enough is enough and give someone else a chance.
Surely the answer lies with the latter.
Russia have a great chance of going far this summer, but that isn't going to happen with a striker who can't score.
Kerzhakov has had his chances—it's time to move over and give someone else a chance.
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