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Russian giant Artem Dzyuba tasked with crushing England at Euro 2016

Artem Dzyuba of Russia celebrates after scoring against Sweden

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski scored more goals than Russia striker Artem Dzyuba in the Champions League this season and England will need to be on their guard on Saturday evening.

England's first opponents in Group B at Euro 2016 will be relying on the giant figure of Dzyuba to maintain his impressive goalscoring form.

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Standing at 6ft 5in, the powerful frontman bagged six goals in eight Champions League games for Zenit St Petersburg and notched eight strikes in Russia's qualifying campaign.

He has an impressive record of nine goals from 18 caps in total - and he's more versatile than you might expect.

The 27-year-old striker's impact during qualifying meant he was involved in 50 per cent of Russia's goals during the campaign - only Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (58 per cent) and Wales' Gareth Bale (80 per cent) were relied on more.

Dzyuba is a late developer at international level with this being his first major tournament after missing out at Euro 2012 and World Cup 2014. It's an opportunity he's looking to grasp with both hands. 

"Four years ago, before Euro 2012, which I eventually did not play in, I called myself a lion cub, but now I am a lion," he said. 

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Hulk (r) and Dzyuba (l) have formed a productive little and large partnership at Zenit
Image: Hulk (right) and Dzyuba have formed a productive little-and-large partnership at Zenit

Although he is not as mobile as some of the world's top strikers, he makes up for it with his presence and imposing play, although for Russia it's his feet rather than his head that do the talking, and scoring.

The Zenit striker feeds off a direct approach at club level and tell us he has scored a very healthy 16 headed goals in his last three seasons.

However, for Russia, manager Leonid Slutsky usually likes to play through midfield and into the feet of his frontman.  

As a consequence, Dzyuba failed to score with his head in qualifying with all of his goals coming via his fancy footwork and interestingly Russia were the only team to reach the Euros that failed to score a header en route.

Dzyuba scored four in a 7-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein, all of which were predator-like goals that you wouldn't expect from a man of his size.

Four years ago, before Euro 2012, which I eventually did not play in, I called myself a lion cub, but now I am a lion.
Artem Dzyuba

His natural finishing ability was also on show when he netted the decisive winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Sweden. He was in the right place at the right time inside the box to finish a flowing move from the right flank. 

This mix of obvious physicality and razor-sharp finishing skills is something that England are aware of, according to centre-back Chris Smalling, who is likely to be marking the giant Russian on Saturday. 

"We have been watching videos this week," Smalling said. "He (Dzyuba) is a big guy and it will be a physical battle.

"But that is something in the Premier League that we face week in and week out and I enjoy it.

"We all have our individual battle and picking up the second balls is crucial, as well as not letting him dictate.

Russia's dangermen
Russia's dangermen

We profile three of Russia's dangermen against England

"With him being able to bring the ball down on his chest - we have to stop that. Our two central defenders will have to be very physical and aggressive against him."

England are usually keen to avoid a giant-killing at major tournaments, but they'll need to provide one of their own in order to kick off their campaign with a positive result. 

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