MOSCOW (AP) – A draw against visiting Andorra on Tuesday will be enough for Russia to qualify for next year's European Championship.
Russia leads Group B with 20 points, followed by Ireland with 18 and Armenia with 17.
Andorra hasn't earned a point in nine matches, but the Russians still remember the loss in Slovenia two years ago when they also needed a draw in the second leg of the World Cup playoffs but fell 1-0 and were eliminated.
If Russia loses, Ireland could claim the automatic spot by beating Armenia in Dublin.
''We've made a very important step toward Euro 2012 but the task is yet to be fulfilled,'' Russia coach Dick Advocaat said after his team's 1-0 win in Slovakia on Friday.
Goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev backed his coach.
''It's not the end of the campaign yet,'' he said. ''We cannot underestimate Andorra, but I hope it's in our hands to finish off in real style and take three points from the last game.''
''No celebrations so far,'' said Advocaat, who will be without a pair of suspended defenders - Alexander Anyukov and Konstantin Zyryanov. Yuri Zhirkov is also a doubt with a leg injury.
Ireland is without captain Robbie Keane after the Los Angeles Galaxy forward picked up an adductor muscle injury in Friday's 2-0 win in Andorra.
In the absence of Ireland's record scorer with 51 international goals, fit-again Stoke striker Jonathan Walters could come in as a replacement. Shane Long and Simon Cox could also be contenders up front alongside Kevin Doyle.
Center back Richard Dunne is available again after serving a one-match ban but left back Stephen Ward is suspended.
Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni is not surprised to see Armenia challenging for a place at Euro 2012.
''The Armenian players play in strong leagues, and some of our players play in the (second-tier League) Championship (in England). If you think about it, it is no surprise,'' the Italian coach said.
''We must play with 100 percent mentality and 100 percent attitude and 100 percent concentration, and be careful of silly mistakes. We are in this position because of one or two silly mistakes against Russia, for example.
''Armenia is a very, very strong team. They have scored more goals than us and we must pay attention.''
And Armenia is hoping to make history by advancing to the playoffs of a major event for the first time if they beat Ireland.
''You may win a match or two by chance,'' Armenia coach Vardan Minosyan said. ''But we've won five so far. I cannot say 100 percent that we will win (on Tuesday), but we have potential for it. The quality of our game gives us a hope.''
Armenia lost 1-0 to Ireland in the qualifying opener last September but has improved much since then. The team won its last three matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding only one.
''We have just one important game left ahead and we will do our best to win,'' said Armenia striker Yura Movsisyan, who set up three goals in the 4-1 victory over Macedonia on Friday.
''Our team takes the match very seriously - we have excellent players who are ready to push themselves to the limit,'' said Ruben Airapetyan, president of the Armenian football federation. ''If God also slightly helps us we'll succeed.''
Armenia will be without injured defender Robert Arzumanyan, who strained a muscle in his right leg on Friday, but defender Hrayr Mkoyan will be back from suspension.
If the Irish finish second in the group, they will qualify for the playoffs - just like they did two years ago ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
On that occasion, Ireland was controversially beaten over two legs by France following a hotly disputed late strike by William Gallas in the second leg in Paris, with Thierry Henry handling the ball in the buildup to the defender's goal.