Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas expects a far sterner test from Russia when they meet in the Euro 2008 semi-finals on Thursday in Vienna.

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas expects a far sterner test from Russia when they meet in the Euro 2008 semi-finals on Thursday in Vienna.

Spain humbled Russia in the group stages 4-1, but Fabregas expects much more in the knock-out stages and has cautioned his teammates: “If we think it will be the same, we will be very mistaken.”

Barcelona Midfielder Xavi Hernández is confident that Luis Aragones’ superstars can end a 44-year European Cup winning drought: “I’m very happy because we have taken a step towards making history, but we haven’t done it yet.

“We’ve got a tough nut to crack in Russia, but the team is ready in all senses and we want to win the tournament.

“We want to keep faith with our playing style. This game will be very different but the key will be if we can keep control of the ball.

“We certainly haven’t become over-confident. There is no danger of that with this team or with this coach.”

Meanwhile, Guus Hiddink has warned his players not to repeat their opening game performance: “If we play as we did before we don’t even have to start this game. We may as well hand over our wallets to Spain.

“We have tried, of course, to improve. The team has learnt a lot in a very short time. We hope to continue that. That’s always the question if the team with not as much experience can continue.

“It’s always the advantage of more experienced teams like Spain, they are used to playing tough matches every four or five days.”

However, midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov wants revenge for the embarrassing 4-1 defeat.

“I wanted to play the Spanish,” said Bilyaletdinov. “The whole team made mistakes against Spain and now we’ve fixed them.

“It’s not a group game, it’s for real. It’s a stronger atmosphere, you have to concentrate and not make mistakes.

“Everybody is talking about us winning the tournament but to do this we must win the next two games, two very difficult games.”

Russia have minor injuries worries from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Ivan Saenko and Alexander Anyukov but the trio is expected to be ready by Thursday, while Spain has a fully fit squad to choose from.

  • tofa

    russia will repeat the previous score and wil be out of this competition

  • esteban ramirez

    This will be a huge challenge for Russia, Spain has more fabric. Let it rip and thunder!