Tickets to Yerevan’s 15,000-seat football arena had been sold out almost ten days before the event and within a little more than a week after their sale was launched, revealing the huge interest in the sporting battle against a nation that also represents the country’s strategic and military ally.
Russia, wary of Armenia’s strong performance at the end of last season that currently places it second to it in Euro-2012 qualifying Group B, as well as of its own misfortunes in recent friendly games, including a humiliating defeat at the hands of Iranians, has been heaping praise on Vardan Minasyan’s charges – a team combining the youth of its playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan, forwards Yura Movsisyan and Edgar Manucharyan and the experience of veteran goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky between the sticks and captain and most capped player Sargis Hovsepyan in the defense line.
• Russia have won all three of their away games to date to take top spot in the section, but Armenia are one of three sides to have picked up seven points, and have not lost in three competitive matches since a 1-0 opening-day home defeat by the Republic of Ireland.
• Armenia and Russia have met only twice before, having been pooled together in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2000. Their first encounter was in Yerevan on 27 March 1999, when two Valeri Karpin goals and a late third by Vladimir Beschastnykh earned the visitors a 3-0 win.