This guy acts like a true, advanced sweeper, covering the spaces behind the other four midfielders. When this formation face an attacking midfielder, such as Russai did against Czech Republic, this man charged with the duty to control the rivals' No. 10.
When the attacking midfielder goes away from his initial position behind the forwards – or the lone striker – the 4-1-4-1 weakness are exposed, because the other central midfielders don't made the movements to occupy the central holding midfielder's position.
By the way, both Zyryanov and Shirokov worked strongly and were disciplined putting pressure on Jaroslav Plasil and Petr Jiracek. On the offense, Advocaat opted to start without a target man option – Pavel Pogrebnyak or Roman Pavlyuchenko – and lined up a different kind of central forward in Aleksandr Kerzhakov. In Kerzhakov, Andrey Arshavin, and Alan Dzagoev, Russia had a trio of mobile forward, able to keep defenders away from the back line with their movement. This movement open the spaces for the upcoming midfielders, such it happened in Shirokov's goal.
Tactics aside, the physicalshape, as someone pointed out, could be a key during this tournament. Fitness coach Raymond Verheijen utilizes an innovative form of periodisation. An expert in football fitness, Verheijen worked for the Dutch FA, South Korea, Russia, and Barcelona.
"A lot of coaches treat players the same way, whatever their age, whatever their body composition, whatever their injury history, whatever their playing position". (Verheijen)
He don't believ on training the players two a day.
"Doing two sessions a day in pre-season...I really I don't understand, because all you are doing is exhausting your players," added Verheijen, who believes different types of players - young players who have just joined the first-team or experienced defenders - should each be following specialised training plans". (Verheijen)
Despite the fact that Russian journalists criticized Advocaat for only training the team once a day in last three weeks, the coach staied on Verheijen's side.
"Key to the philosophy is injury prevention. If you build up fitness quick then you are more likely to get injured. It then becomes a vicious circle because if a player does get injured in pre-season, the rest of the team develops quickly so there is a bigger gap to make up when you return and we often see a player getting injured again trying to over-train to catch up". (Verheijen)
Verheijen is the guy which keept Gareth Bale off during the match against England in March 2011.
Verheijen's method requires also extensive warm-up and extensive passing near to the match, with no possession games or tactical games to avoid load on muscles and tendons. After the game the players go into swimming pool for a recovery session. The day after the game, substitutes do 6x2min of 4v4 with 1min recovering. By the way, in tournament like Euro 2012, with less days between games, subs have to stay fresh so they do only an extensive warm-up, intensive pass/shooting drill, and conditioning games 4x2min of 4v4 with 1min recovering + a session in swimming pool. No pass/shoot exercise with tired muscles.