Russia's national team will not repeat their Euro 2008 success at next month's tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Spain striker Roberto Soldado told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.
Then, under Guus Hiddink, the Russians beat the Netherlands on a run to the semifinals, where they were finally ousted 3-0 by eventual champions Spain.
"As for Euro 2012, I think, the Russian's road will be short, because there are many rivals of a much higher level at the moment," Soldado said.
While that tournament may come too soon for Russia, the team can be a top contender at the 2018 World Cup, which they host for the first time, Soldado said.
"Russia have many experienced players but also many young and promising ones, so for their home 2018 World Cup they will reach the level of a good, serious opponent."
Russia play Czech Republic, co-host Poland and Greece at the tournament, with a potential quarterfinal against Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany or Denmark.
The 26-year-old Soldado, who was left out of Euro 2008 squad by the coach Luis Aragones, returned to the Spain side in February after a six-year absence, scoring a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Venezuela.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque included Soldado into the preliminary squad for the Euro 2012, and the final 23 will be announced next week.
"I hope to see myself on the final list of those who will go to Euro very much," Soldado said.
"At the moment I just feel glad being in the preliminary squad, despite such great competition, and I will do everything possible to be among the championship participants."
"Spanish team is one of the best in Europe, from the rest I would distinguish the German and the Dutch one, it will be hard with them an all the matches against them will be a real battle, a hard battle."
Spain plays Italy, Ireland and Croatia and in case of reaching the quarterfinal will face either co-hosting Ukraine, Sweden, France or England.
Soldado started his career at Real Madrid and switched to Getafe in 2008, before joining his home-town side Valencia as a replacement for David Villa, who left for Barcelona in 2010.