Russia’s football coach Dick Advocaat believes Armenia could help his team win their group in the Euro 2012 qualifiers by depriving high-flying Slovakia of points on Tuesday.
Russia took the sole lead in Group B after Friday’s clashes, in which they topped Macedonia 1-0 and Ireland drew 0-0 against Slovakia.
On Tuesday, they take on the second-placed Ireland in Moscow, having already beaten the Irish 3-2 in Dublin last October.
Victory is critical for both sides as Slovakia and Armenia remain in the running for the Ukraine and Poland finals.
“We are now two points ahead of the nearest rivals (Ireland and Slovakia) and even in the case of a tie at Luzhniki, we will maintain the same gap from the Irish. Of course, we will try to win. And if the Slovaks would have won in Dublin, it would have been the worst-case scenario because it would have denied us an opportunity to play a draw in Slovakia,” Dick Advocaat told Sport-Express newspaer.
“But I wouldn’t forget about the fact that Slovakia meet Armenia on Tuesday. There are three points between them. If the Armenians win they will catch up with the Slovaks and have a real chance to fight for second place. It’s good for us as they have a chance and, therefore, they’ll be extremely motivated,” he added.
Russia have a fully-fit squad to choose from for the Irish game, though midfielder Igor Denisov is out through suspension.
Dick Advocaat told the paper that he even consulted Andrey Arshavin on a possible substitute for the key defensive midfielder.
Denis Glushakov, Roman Shirokov and Igor Semshov, who played in this position under previous coach Guus Hiddink, are among the coach’s main options.
“I also expressed my appreciation to Andrey’s display in his game against Macedonia. I’ve never seen him being so good in my team. And not just in attack, but in defensive actions also,” he added.
There are just three games remaining in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, with Russia facing Ireland on September 6 as well as Slovakia and Andorra in October.