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Arsene Wenger, the manager of the English Premier League side Arsenal,
Arsene Wenger, the manager of the English Premier League side Arsenal, has said that he is disappointed with the standard of the games at Euro 2008 - the only exception being the performances of the 'fast and fresh' Russian side.

"I've been disappointed with this Euro," Wegner told the French paper L'Equipe. "Sure, we've seen some exciting, interesting matches, but they were more for the fans. For me, as a specialist, it is obvious that European soccer has not made any progress. There are no new tactics; the trainers have ceased to create."

"In general," the French trainer went on, "I've seen nothing interesting. The only exception is the Russian side. They are fast and fresh. They take risks. They bring pleasure to the fans and tacticians alike. Most teams are afraid. The Russians, on the other hand, are not scared to take people on, one-on-one. That's why there have been so many chances in front of goal in their games."

Russia, led by their Dutch coach Guus Hiddink and playmaker Andrey Arshavin, have arguably been the most exciting team at Euro 2008. They beat Holland 3-1 on Saturday in the side's best performance since the break up of the U.S.S.R., and face Spain in a semifinal match on Thursday.

However, despite his admiration for Hiddink's side, Wegner believes that Russia will fail to make the final.

"Russia's weak point is their defense. Especially the central defenders. Spain already know how to beat the Russians, and they will have also studied the mistakes of the Dutch," he said.

Spain beat Russia 4-1 in their opening Group D game two weeks ago. However, Russia were without the inspirational Arshavin, who missed the first two games of the tournament through suspension.

The Russian government has allocated $195 million to the development of domestic soccer in 2009-2011, the finance minister announced on Wednesday.

"The money will go, in particular, toward the creation of sports centers, including world class soccer pitches," said Alexei Kudrin.


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