Russia Takes On Finland at Lokomotiv Stadium

APAndrei Arshavin makes his trademark gesture after scoring against Germany on Saturday. Russia lost 2-1 in Dortmund and faces Finland on Wednesday.
Russia will play Finland at Lokomotiv Stadium Wednesday in a World Cup qualifier that the home team needs to win to boost its chances of qualifying for the tournament in South Africa.

Despite losing 2-1 to Germany in Dortmund on Saturday, Russia was not outclassed against the European championship runners-up and could easily have equalized in the second half.

Russian media reflected this with a Komsomolskaya Pravda headline capturing the reaction, "Obidno no ne Stydno," which roughly translates as "Upsetting but not embarrassing."

Russian fans have great hopes for their team after it reached the semifinals of the European Championships last summer but realize that the best they can probably hope for in a group with Germany is to take second place.

To do that Russia needs to beat Finland, which along with Wales is the main competitor for second place. Second place will be decided in a playoff for the right to go to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Russia is in fourth place in the group with three points after two games.

Coach Guus Hiddink will be hoping that Russia can finish the year on a high note, as it is the team's last game before qualifying resumes in March with a home game against Azerbaijan.

"We want to finish this kind of season as we should," Dynamo midfielder Igor Semshov told Sport Express on Tuesday.

"The loss to Germany won't effect us," CSKA midfielder Yury Zhirkov told the paper. "The only thing it might do is make us angrier."

"The only thing that suits us in the match with Finland is three points," Zhirkov said.

Hiddink earlier called up a number of new players because of injuries. Defender Denis Kolodin is out for the rest of the year with an ankle injury, while Lokomotiv midfielder Dmitry Torbinsky and Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko have groin and ankle injuries, respectively.

One of the new players, CSKA midfielder Alan Dzagoyev, who impressed when he came on in the second half against Germany, will likely get some playing time again.

Russia will play before a sellout crowd. However, numerous web sites are selling tickets with prices starting at 2,000 rubles. And scalpers will, as usual, sell tickets outside the stadium.

Russia vs. Finland at Lokomotiv Stadium on Oct 15th. 7pm. M. Cherkizovskaya. www.rfs.ru . Tel. 926-1300.