Capello: NI clash is crucial

Fabio Capello believes Russia's game away to Northern Ireland on Friday is shaping up to be their most important World Cup qualifier.

Last Updated: 20/03/13 at 18:50 Post Comment

Fabio Capello: Expecting a difficult game against Northern Ireland on Friday

Fabio Capello: Expecting a difficult game against Northern Ireland on Friday

Russia are currently five points clear at the top of Group F with a perfect record from their first four matches, but Capello is expecting a tough test at Windsor Park.

The former England boss knows how much of a threat Northern Ireland can be on their home ground and has told his players to sharpen their focus.

"I believe it will be the most important match for us," the Italian told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

"Northern Ireland have held Portugal to a 1-1 draw last year. For our team the away clash at Belfast will without doubts be the most serious test.

"Northern Ireland are very dangerous on the counter-attack and in dead ball situations. I expect a very tough clash on Friday."

Israel and Portugal are the nearest challengers to Russia and Capello insists there is a lot of hard work still to do to secure a World Cup spot.

"The five-point lead doesn't mean anything," he said. "We have played just four matches and the most serious clashes are still ahead. I expect tough opposition in every one of the remaining matches.

"We started well and left our rivals behind. But the qualifying tournament is a long way to go and we have no right to relax until we win our place in the World Cup finals."

Capello added that Russia would probably play their home qualifiers with Luxembourg and Israel in September in St Petersburg's Petrovsky stadium, the home of reigning Russian champions Zenit.

"Luzhniki Stadium, the 2018 World Cup main venue, will be closed for renovation, while the pitch at Moscow's Lokomotiv arena was in poor condition when we played our last qualifier there," Capello said.

"I think it's a good idea to play at St Petersburg in September. The arena there is very comfortable with an excellent pitch. It seems to be a good choice for us."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

f Jose left a mess at Inter Milan then Rafa cleaned it up with a hand grenade and a bag of compost

westwoodbo
Benitez 'tidying up Mourinho's messes'

T

he name of the article is apt as all my wildest dreams will come through if it turns out to be true

parsy12
The Vote Pedro Gossip

Y

ouri Tielemans is everything Jack Wilshere wants to be!

ross1119
F365's Top Ten Breakthrough Stars Of 2015/16

Footer 365

Jose Mourinho claims Rafael Benitez destroyed his Inter Milan side in six months

Jose Mourinho has fired back at Rafael Benitez’s wife after she said the Chelsea manager left a mess at Real Madrid.

Arsene Wenger responds to Jose Mourinho taunt

Arsene Wenger has brushed off Jose Mourinho's latest taunts after the Chelsea boss said the Gunners' recent spending may come as "a surprise".

Louis van Gaal predicts this will be Luke Shaw's season

Louis van Gaal claims that this will be Luke Shaw's season after piling praise on the 20-year-old left-back.

Mail Box

Di Maria Just Didn't Fit (S**t Happens)

If a signing doesn't work there doesn't have to be a massive witch hunt. So there. Plus a detailed net spend rant, Breel Embolo, computer games and Louis van Gaal...

The Calculator Is On Wenger's Side...

Over the last five years, Arsenal's net spent is about 55% of Chelsea's, so shush your mouth Jose. Plus, Van Gaal is attacked and defended in equal measure...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company