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Sunday 20 August 2017

McGeady set for Moscow madness after muted affair at Lansdowne

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

CONTRASTS don't come much starker than what Aiden McGeady will face tomorrow as he goes from the muted Aviva atmosphere to the cauldron of a Moscow derby.

Perhaps the anticipation of such a big clash will have dominated his thoughts during the seven-hour flight back to the Russian capital yesterday, pushing from his mind any lingering memories of a forgettable evening when his final ball again let him down.

The former Celtic star has plenty of big derby experience in the form of numerous Old Firm clashes and having been raised in the culture of that very Glaswegian occasion.

Moscow's brand of derby will be another new experience in the massive culture shock that McGeady has undergone since signing for Spartak last summer, and he is relishing the challenge that CSKA will present.

Unfortunately for McGeady and Co, the Champions League spots for next season have evaded Spartak, who lie fourth -- eight points off Rubin Kazan with two games to go.

However, local bragging rights and a Europa League spot are on the agenda tomorrow.

intense

"I've no experience of a Moscow derby, but I'm told it is quite intense," he said.

"At home, when you're playing against a smaller team, because it is such a big stadium, the atmosphere can be a bit strange. It's loud from behind the goals where the hardcore fans are, but when the stadium has a lot of empty seats, sometimes it can seem a little bit eerie.

"For the big games, it has a class atmosphere, like when we played Zenit (St Petersburg) and Chelsea, and the stadium was full. I'm looking forward to playing CSKA, it's going to be a massive game. "

Giovanni Trapattoni started the winger in Ireland's previous four competitive games, but opted for Liam Lawrence and Damien Duff on Wednesday.

In a squad not noted for its depth, the wings seem disproportionately competitive and McGeady is willing to fight for his place. Although he was disappointed with the result, he felt the evening was positive.

"I thought we played the better football," he said. "It helps when it's a friendly -- it's more for blooding new players or giving games to guys who haven't played too much recently.

"Competition is healthy. You have to have a lot of options. If I'm not playing and Duffer is playing ahead of me, you know, he has to be on top of the his game.

"Likewise, if it is me playing and he is on the bench, at least you know myself, Hunty or Liam Lawrence are out there -- it's healthy to have options in the squad."

Irish Independent

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