Irish striker Robbie Keane says his team has learned its lesson from a 3-2 home loss to Russia last October, adding that he and his partners are ready to do battle against the Euro 2012 qualifying Group B leaders in Moscow on Tuesday.
“We have been doing really well lately,” Keane said. “We haven’t conceded too many goals. We’ve learned the lessons from the game against Russia in Ireland, and we’ll be taking them into Tuesday’s match.”
“I think we’re fully aware of what Russia is going to bring up,” he added.
The visitors from the Republic of Ireland anticipate a tough encounter , as a defeat could bring their qualifying hopes to an end.
The Moscow match is equally important for Russia, which is two points ahead of the second-place Irish and Slovakia.
Russian coach Dick Advocaat also expects no walk in the park at Luzhniki Stadium.
“It doesn’t matter who is playing for Ireland,” he said. “Even if they bring the Under-21 team, the commitment is always more than 100 percent. Always difficult to play against. But again, we have to think of ourselves and play our own system. That works. I hope we’ll be able to do it in the home game as well.”
A victory against Ireland would be a massive step toward Euro 2012 qualification for Team Russia. It would allow them to play a draw away at Slovakia in October, as nobody doubts they’ll beat lowly Andorra in the last of the remaining qualifying games.
Russia can boast a fully-fit squad for the match, with Advocaat’s only headache being the suspension of key midfielder Igor Denisov.
On the other hand, Segey Ignashevich, who is essential for the teams back line, is back after a ban.
Russia sits atop Group B with 16 points, while Ireland and Slovakia have 14 points. The Armenians, with 11 points, also have hopes of making it back into battle for Euro 2012, but they have to beat the Slovaks away in order to have a chance.