Warsaw: Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko said on Tuesday if Russia are to have a chance of at least repeating their semi-final appearance at Euro 2008 in this edition they have to beat their opening opponents Czech Republic on Friday.
The 30-year-old Lokomotiv hitman - who ended an inconsistent four year spell at Premier League side Spurs in January with a transfer back home - said that it would not be an easy task to beat the Euro 2004 semi-finalists but it was obligatory.
"We should win on Friday at any costs," said Pavlyuchenko, who was one of their stars in 2008 scoring three goals.
"We face a tough task to reach the Euro knockout stage. To achieve this goal we must win. Of course it will be tough as every European team now knows how to play quality football. But we must win this clash anyway."
Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Roman Shirokov agreed that winning their opener was vital to the outcome of their campaign, even if in 2008 they had been beaten by eventual champions Spain in their first match.
"It's not really important to repeat the result that we achieved against Italy (a 3-0 friendly win last Friday)," he said.
"To win, to gain three points - it's the most important task for us on Friday.
"A lot depends on the opening match. The result may determine the entire campign. Although four years ago we started with a defeat we managed to recover. But this time it will be much better to start with a win."
On the fitness front there was a double piece of good news for coach Dick Advocaat as midfielder Marat Izmailov and Zenit St Petersburg defender Alexander Anyukov declared themselves fit after missing the Italy game because of injury.
Izmailov said he was determined to win a place in the starting line-up for the Czech game but added whatever the personal outcome for him there was a splendid spirit around the squad and fears over their hotel not being safe had been ill founded.
Last month Russia had rejected a request by the Polish sports minister that the squad consider moving out of the five-star Le Meridien Bristol because of a rally planned outside the neighboring presidential palace for June 10.
The monthly event honours the late Polish head of state Lech Kaczynski and the 95 other members of his delegation who died in a 2010 plane crash outside the Russian city of Smolensk while flying to a World War II memorial site.
Many Poles still give credit to conspiracy theories about Russian involvement in the death of the Moscow-critical Kaczynski, raising speculation that patriotic fervour could spill over during the 24-day event.
However, Izmailov was adamant that he and his compatriots did not feel ill at ease in the hotel and were not distracted from the task in hand of beating the Czechs.
"The conditions in our hotel in Warsaw are excellent. I feel comfortable there and can concentrate completely on the preparation for the match."
After the Czechs, Russia also play co-hosts Poland and Euro 2004 champions Greece.