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Russia’s Roman Shirokov: England are favourites but we have talent to triumph

The veteran Russia captain says England’s opening Euro 2016 opponents are a more attacking force under the coaching of Leonid Slutsky and plays down the potential volatility of a possible meeting with Ukraine

Not every player at Euro 2016 would be content to discuss drugs, hooligans and foreign policy but then Roman Shirokov’s career has been more unusual than many. Russia’s captain once faked a broken leg to cover up an unexcused absence and initially he was known more for drinking violations and barbed comments than for his play.

Nowadays it is difficult to see this wilder side of Shirokov, who is soft-spoken and reserved in person, with a disarming smile. The 34-year-old CSKA Moscow midfielder may have mellowed off the pitch but on it his will to win remains as strong as ever, as England can expect to discover when the teams meet in Marseille on Saturday night.

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