Irish hold aces say Russians
RUSSIAN star Pavel Pogrebnyak insists that Ireland are now favourites to finish top of Group 2 in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.
The Russians arrive in Dublin on Thursday ahead of Friday's massive game at Lansdowne Road, with huge pressure on coach Dick Advocaat following a 1-0 loss at home to Slovakia in their last game.
Still reeling from their failure to qualify for the World Cup finals - Russia lost to Slovenia in a play-off - Advocaat has already said that his side need wins from their next outings, away to Ireland and Macedonia, to stay in contention.
But Stuttgart striker Pogrebnyak - second-top scorer in the Bundesliga this season with the kind of form that will see Spurs man Roman Pavlyuchenko relegated to the bench in Dublin on Friday - says that his side have it all to do.
"Ireland are the favourites for the group now," said Pogrebnyak, who has scored five goals in seven games for Stuttgart this season, as the Russian squad arrived at their Moscow base yesterday.
"Giovanni Trapattoni is a great coach with a name that is known all around the world, and Ireland have players from the Premier League that we all know like Keane, O'Shea and Given.
"And they also have Aiden McGeady, I saw him play for Spartak against Zilina in the Champions League last week and he is a top player," added Pogrebnyak.