EuroScout

Euroscout: Alan Dzagoev

CSKA Moscow and Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoev

Ahead of the Euro 2012 finals, we take a look at the free-kick specialist who is aiming to help Russia go one step further after reaching the last four of Euro 2008.

Full name: Alan Dzagoev
Date of birth: June 17, 1990
Place of birth: Beslan
Nationality: Russian
Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Current club: CSKA Moscow
Previous club: Krylia Sovet-SOK

Russia coach Dick Advocaat professed his belief that Russia could win Euro 2012 after holding South American champions Uruguay to a 1-1 draw on Friday. CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev is a figure who could help Advocaat realise such a lofty prediction.

At the age of 21, Dzagoev is the latest in a long line of exciting prospects to emerge from behind the old Iron Curtain. He has been watched by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, and has been rated by various publications in Europe as one of the world's top 10 young talents, a figured compared in stature to Neymar, Mario Goetze and Mario Balotelli.

He has scored four goals in 18 appearances for Russia. He was the youngest outfield player to earn a cap for his country when he appeared at the age of 18 against Germany in a 2010 World Cup qualifier. Only the country's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was younger when he made his debut.

"Alan is a really clever player with the ability to make a killer pass and stretch the play. He proved that in Germany once again," said former Russia coach Guus Hiddink.

Alan Dzagoev in action for Russia

In qualiying for Euro 2012, Dzagoev netted four times and also came up with a winner against Slovakia away from home.

The main concern over Dzagoev centres around his fitness after he broke a toe playing for CSKA in the death throes of the season. His absence came at a critical time with CSKA losing out to city rivals Spartak for second place in the Russian table and a Champions League spot.

Not that he has been starved of Champions League action, having appeared twice in quarter-finals and the last 16 of the tournament in two of the past three seasons. Dzagoev is two-footed, fast and can play across the midfield with little worries. He scored an excellent free-kick in the Champions League and is a real threat from such situations.

Dzagoev's role model is Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard. He would dearly love to come across Lampard deep in this tournament.

In a Group A section that contains Czech Republic, Greece and co-hosts Poland, Russia will view a quarter-final place as mandatory.

Comparing the Group A playmakers

Analysis from Russia's 0-0 draw with Lithuania in a friendly match in Nyon on May 29 with Dzagoev appearing for the second half.

47' - A whole raft of changes for the Russians at the break. The most notable one sees Alan Dzagoev thrown on for Shirokov.

49' - Some neat play by Dzagoev as he races from the halfway line, but Lithuania break up the play. Like they have done for most of the evening.

59' - Dzagoev yet to open his box of tricks after that free-kick hit the wall. Is trying to drop a bit deeper to create the space he needs to thrive.

76' - Panka brings down Dzagoev after he showed some neat skills to control the ball. The free-kick is again a major disappointment. Story of this match.