There’s been plenty of talk about the artificial surface being used at the Luzhniki Stadium for England’s decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia this week.
Extreme weather conditions have apparently forced the Russians to opt for an artificial surface called FieldTurf – but is it a calculated gamble aimed at trying to disorientate the English team?
To his credit, Steve McLaren hasn’t earmarked the pitch as a potential excuse and his preparations include training on a similar surface in Altrincham, Cheshire. “We’ve looked at research – the ProZone analysts have studied more than 100 games played on this surface and the game is no different. There will be no issue with the pitch and absolutely no excuses,” he said.
But, while Russia coach, Guus Hiddink, insists his side will gain ‘no real advantage’, he did concede that the pitch and the greater capacity of the stadium could play a psychological role.
“Naturally the psychological aspect (of playing at the Luzhniki) gives us a huge advantage, and the fans will create a fiery atmosphere. It will be difficult for England,” he said.
How do you think, be it just in their heads, or actually physically on the pitch, England will cope with the Russian pitch on Wednesday.