Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given expects a pitch battle in Moscow – after accusing UEFA of playing into Russia’s hands ahead of Tuesday night’s big Euro 2012 qualifier.
The Aston Villa star has claimed that Ireland won’t be afraid of the plastic pitch at the Lushniki Stadion.
But Given does feel the artificial surface gives the Russians a major boost in a must-win game for the visitors.
“We’re not worried about the plastic pitch but I do think it’s an unfair advantage for them,” said Given after his 115th cap against Slovakia in Friday night’s scoreless draw.
“They’re the only team in Europe who play national games on a plastic pitch. I don’t think it’s fair. It’s another fantastic decision by UEFA or FIFA or whoever makes these decisions.
“But we’ve got to get on with it. Speaking to Aiden McGeady, I don’t think the Russian lads like playing on it that much either. You’ve got to deal with it.”
Donegal-born Given expects Ireland to up the ante when they meet the Group B leaders on Tuesday night, even with the Slovakian disappointment fresh in their minds.
He added: “We have a huge game on Tuesday, and we’ve got to respond. We’ve had some great results away from home over the last few years, and we’ll take Slovakia on the chin.
“We’ve got to keep our heads up and try to qualify. Slovakia went to Russia and won the game, so anything can happen in Russia, we can go there and win, who knows?
“It’s a game which can decide the whole group, because they’re favourites to top the group, but I don’t think they’ll fancy playing us either.
“We’ve got some very good players in our squad. Hopefully the handbrake will come off on Tuesday night. But we can’t leave the back door too open as well! You know, we’ll see what happens.”