ARSENAL’s Spanish general, Cesc Fabregas admits his side will need to pay special attention to Russia playmaker Andrei Arshavin when the two nations meet in the Euro 2008 semi-finals on Thursday.
Arshavin was the only player to play in all 12 of Russia’s qualifying matches, but a red card against Andorra meant that he was suspended for the opening two group matches in Austria and Switzerland – including his side’s 4-1 defeat to Spain.
Since then though, the 27-year-old Zenit St Petersburg star has been busy boosting his already-impressive reputation with a series of fine displays, and he could be a key player in the semi-final against Spain.
Speculation suggests Arshavin could be a team-mate of Fabregas at Arsenal next season, but while the Spain midfielder admits he was formerly in the dark about his upcoming opponent’s talents, that is no longer the case.
“I saw him (against Holland), he’s a good player. I didn’t know him before but he looks good so we have to be careful,” Fabregas said.
Fabregas was talking after slotting home the winning spot-kick in his side’s 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Italy in Vienna, a result that sent Spain through to the last four.
The 21-year-old is anything but a regular penalty taker for club or country, but he fired past Gianluigi Buffon with aplomb to earn Spain their first competitive win over Italy since 1920.
“The goal became a bit small when I looked up but fortunately for me I scored. It was the winning one, but if my team-mates hadn’t scored before and if (Iker) Casillas didn’t save two it could have been different.”
* Turkey goalkeeper Volkan Demirel will miss the Euro 2008 semi-final against Germany after his ban for violent conduct was upheld by UEFA.
Volkan was slapped with the two-match ban after he pushed Jan Koller in Turkey’s spectacular 3-2 group stage win over the Czech Republic. Veteran keeper Rustu Recber will continue in his absence.
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