Russia have matured since their Euro 2008 semifinal appearance, becoming a team to be feared at this year's tournament, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko has said.
"We were the dark horses in 2008 and very few people believed in us," the 30-year-old striker, now at Lokomotiv Moscow, said on the website of his new team.
"Now we have serious experience, we have a robust team that people have begun to fear."
Compared to the team that beat the Netherlands 3-1 in extra time in the 2008 quarterfinal, Russia have become "wider and more solid," said Pavlyuchenko, who scored the opener in that game and was named in the 23-man squad of the tournament.
Russia kick off their Group A campaign later Friday against the Czech Republic in Wroclaw, before going on to play co-hosts Poland on Tuesday and Greece on June 16 in Warsaw.
Pavlyuchenko joined Lokomotiv from Tottenham in the winter transfer window after three and a half seasons in London.
He has scored twice in nine games for Lokomotiv, who finished a disappointing seventh in the Russian Premier League, leading to the dismissal of coach Jose Couceiro.