Russia boss Guus Hiddink admitted he was looking forward to playing his homeland, Holland, in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.
Hiddink was speaking in the aftermath of Russia’s impressive 2-0 victory over Sweden on Wednesday night – a result which brings the the coach head-to-head with a Holland team he used to manage.
“I know the way we play we get respect because we play with the concepts that football should be played, like Holland,” said Hiddink, who led Holland to the World Cup semi-finals in 1998.
“I don’t know if they fear us but they have five days more rest, which is an advantage. Our problem is we only have two days to recuperate.
“I don’t have 20 A-players. Holland used their B-team last night (against Romania). Their A-team have had five or six days to recover.
“It’s a special game because I know the players, the coach and more people within the squad I worked with.
“I’m very proud of my team and the progress they have made in the last few days. They play modern football.
“This is a huge win for a side still under construction. It gives me real pleasure to work with them.
“In the course of the past three weeks these youngsters have learnt a lot.
“The only criticism you can make is that we don’t score enough of the opportunities we created. Nevertheless, this team have made tremendous progress.”
“The next goal are the Dutch (in Basel on Saturday).
Hiddink singled out the performance of Andrei Arshavin, who made his debut in the competition last night after missing the first two games through suspension.
“Arshavin is a player who can decide very fast where he can create danger, he’s a very smart player,” Hiddink added. “There was a lack of match fitness but that is the reason why I took him in the 23-man squad – he can make a difference.”
Arshavin was pleased with his side’s overall performance, but felt they should have enjoyed a more comfortable victory.
“We played very well, we attacked very well,” said Arshavin.
“At 1-0 I thought we sat back a bit, which I didn’t like, but when we got the second goal I thought we could have gone on to get more.
“I hope we can do the same again against Holland but they are the strongest team in the tournament.”