'It's The Same For Both Teams'

Society Materials 28 September 2007 05:12 (UTC +04:00)

(SKY news) The Russian Football Association has robustly defended the decision to play England's Euro 2008 qualifier away leg on a synthetic pitch.

Playing on a plastic pitch may prove tricky for Steve McLaren's menThe rebuttal of criticism came on the day the Luzhniki Stadium's management unveiled the controversial surface to the press.

Vladimir Aleshin, head of the complex, said there was no problem with the pitch as it met all international standards.

He also added that the game would present the same challenges to both England and Russia.

Walk out into the stadium, and the first thing that you notice is the pitch looks darker green than natural grass.

It makes a striking contrast against the backdrop of the imposing Soviet-built Luzhniki ground, which can seat more than 80,000 fans.

Underfoot it feels like turf, but rub it with your hand and you get the impression sliding tackles will definitely hurt.

However, the Russians insist that natural grass would be no more suitable because of problems created by the climate here.

They say October's heavy seasonal rains could turn a normal pitch into a quagmire.

Rooney and co face crunch clashIt is also the only stadium in town with a suitable surface big enough to cater for a game of this size.

The head of the Russian Football Association says England can expect a fast-paced game when they arrive for the match on October 17.

But Yevgeny Kalakutskiy was keen to dispel talk that the ball would bounce unpredictably, or the players would be more susceptible to injury.

In the last few months, the move to use an artificial surface in such a high-profile and important match has angered both England players and fans alike.

But the synthetic turf has been passed by both UEFA and FIFA.

So Steve McLaren's players had better be prepared for what they will find when they arrive in Moscow for what could be a very long and cold night.