Giovanni Trapattoni believes the Republic of Ireland can defy their critics and history by springing an upset against Russia in Moscow on Tuesday to fire their hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2012.
The manager refused to dwell on the shortcomings his team showed in the goalless home draw with Slovakia on Friday. Despite a stuttering performance, Ireland created four clear opportunities, only to fluff their lines.
Trapattoni will not alter his tactics at the Luzhniki Stadium, where the artificial pitch will present its own problems, and he believes his team are merely one converted chance from reinvigorating their campaign.
Shane Long will miss the qualifier because of a calf injury, meaning that Trapattoni will chose between Kevin Doyle, who laboured against Slovakia, and Simon Cox, who replaced him after 64 minutes, for the attacking berth alongside Robbie Keane. Trapattoni admitted that he might have played five in midfield had the team beaten Slovakia but the imperative is to carry the fight to Russia.
"If we create the same opportunities [in Moscow], it's vital that we take them," Trapattoni said. "I would have been more disappointed against Slovakia if we had not created chances but now, we need to score. Our defence played well. Six successive clean sheets [a national record] is good for our growth and mentality. But we will look to win against Russia."
Trapattoni added: "Same approach, same approach. This group is not like Manchester United versus Arsenal, with 8-2 scorelines. The games are 1-0, 2-1 … very close. No panic. There might be one day of disappointment after Slovakia, but then the confidence comes back."
Trapattoni suggested that the Leeds United centre-half Darren O'Dea would deputise for the suspended Sean St Ledger as his players considered the prospect of the Luzhniki's surface.
"I do think it's an unfair advantage," said the goalkeeper Shay Given. "They're the only team in Europe who play on a plastic pitch."
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