Ireland expect Russian revolt

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli has warned his side to expect a backlash from Russia in Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Friday night.

Tardelli's men face Dick Advocaat's Russia in a game that is crucial to both countries' hopes of qualifying for the UEFA EURO 2012. Russia come to Dublin under pressure, having lost to Group B rivals Slovakia in September, while Ireland Republic have six points from their opening two games, victories over Armenia and Andorra.

Tardelli insists Russia are still one of the world's top sides despite last month's defeat and their failure to qualify for last summer's FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.

"I don't think that Russia are a side in decline, I think Russia is among the top 10 teams in the world," said the former Inter Milan manager, now Giovanni Trapattoni's number two. "They are a very good team with many quality players.

Russia will be stung a little bit and they will be hurting from that defeat (to Slovakia). I am not sure they will be looking forward to coming here.
Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Lawrence.

"I saw the match against Slovakia and I think a draw or a Russian win would have been a fair result. They had many chances to score a goal and they played well.

"But they will come here to win the match because if they lose the match it is possible they will fall behind (in the group).

"They are very good technically but with pressure in midfield it is possible for us to attack and it is possible for us to play very well."

Absentees on both ends
Both Russia and Ireland Republic are missing players through injury with Roman Pavlyuchenko, Damien Duff and Keith Andrews ruled out earlier this week.

Ireland and Aston Villa defender Richard Dunne had a scan on Wednesday after missing training but is expected to make the starting lineup, while in-form striker Alexander Kerzhakov is a major doubt for Russia, with a muscle strain.

In form Aiden McGeady, who made a 12-million-euro switch to Spartak Moscow from Celtic in the summer, is regarded by many as the main threat for Russia at the moment.

But Liam Lawrence, on the opposite wing, will play a crucial part in Ireland's defensively minded formation, and the Portsmouth midfielder believes the home side can beat Russia on Friday and then win in Slovakia on Tuesday.

Victory on Friday night would put Ireland six points clear of Russia after just three games.

"I think we can give anyone a game and we can beat anybody, and I do think that six points is within our reach," said the 28-year-old Lawrence.

"It's going to be a really tough game, but we have come through these tough games in the past and we have got to again.

"Russia will be stung a little bit and they will be hurting from that defeat (to Slovakia). I am not sure they will be looking forward to coming here, so hopefully we can catch them again and we can get the win.

"We have learnt from those games in the past and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for Friday because we are going to have to call upon all our experience and everything we have got for these two games," he said.