Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Russia v Northern Ireland: We must defend for our lives like when Napoleon invasion was thwarted here, says Carroll

There is a hotel in downtown Moscow, just a short drive from the Northern Ireland team's base that is named after a famous battle in 1812 when Russian forces halted Napoleon's invasion.

Hotel Borodino has devoted its reception and foyer to murals depicting the events of the time.

The Russians, as we know only too well, are proud people down the years — determined to keep what they have — and this attitude hasn’t wavered despite many changes in Moscow.

Roy Carroll, who is expected to start in goal tonight ahead of Lee Camp, believes Northern Ireland must adopt that Russian mentality.

For the former Manchester United and West Ham keeper is of the opinion that if his international team-mates are prepared to put their bodies on the line then the rewards will be great.

The Republic and in particular Richard Dunne did just that during Euro 2012 qualifying and came away with a creditable point after a scoreless draw in Moscow.

Carroll, who has played in some of the most intimidating stadiums around the world, says the Russians, who are eager to please after a disappointing Euro 2012 and also the fact former England boss Fabio Capello is now in charge, may crumble under the pressure of expectation.

“Russia are a big team but they’re playing at home, so the pressure is on them to come out and score goals early,” admits Carroll, who will win his 22nd cap in the Lokomotiv Stadium.

“If we can hold them, their fans will get on their backs and it will be interesting to see how they react to that. They’re a good team, they started off well in the Euros, but build on that. With a new manager they’ll think they have to prove themselves.

“Yes, Capello has dropped experienced players like Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko, Pogrebnyak but new players come in and want to impress the new manager and want to do well – hopefully they’ll try to do too much and make mistakes. We’re in good spirits and we always think we can cause an upset. If you don’t believe in yourself you shouldn’t be a professional footballer. That’s what Michael O'Neill and the coaches are trying to do, give us belief, go out with high standards and hopefully get something out of the game.”

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