Russia will host Luxembourg at Centralniy Stadium in 2014 World Cup qualifying play on Saturday.
The world No. 16 has gone 4-2 in six World Cup qualifying matches so far, posting 12 points. The Russians have defeated Israel and Azerbaijan while going 1-1 against Portugal and Northern Ireland.
Russia is two points behind Group F leader Portugal.
Luxembourg—the world No. 140—has yet to win a match in World Cup qualifying, drawing with Azerbaijan (twice) and Northern Ireland and losing to Israel (twice) and Portugal. The side is on the bottom of the Group F table with three points.
Here's a look at the 2014 World Cup qualifying match on Friday, complete with my prediction.
When: Friday, Sept. 6 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Where: Centralniy Stadium, Kazan, Russia
Live Stream: ESPN3
Odds (via Bovada): Russia 1/100
Top Storyline: Will Russia Rebound from Shocking Loss to Northern Ireland?
Russia may be in second place in Group F, but the side lost its last two World Cup qualifying matches, including its last on Aug. 14 to world No. 109 Northern Ireland.
What was even more shocking about Russia's 1-0 loss to Northern Ireland was the fact that Northern Ireland was without starters Jonny Evans and Kyle Lafferty (injury, illness), as well as Chris Brunt (suspension).
In the loss, Russia managed 11 shots, albeit zero on goal, via ESPN FC. Despite holding possession for 62 percent of the match, Russia came out the loser.
Russia outclasses Luxembourg. Then again, Russia was supposed to outclass Northern Ireland in August and put on an embarrassing display.
One thing's for sure: If Russia loses against Luxembourg in Kazan, the boo birds are going to come out in droves.
Prediction: Russia 2, Northern Ireland 1
I expect Russia to come back with a vengeance on Friday, especially in front of its own crowd.
The Russians know they missed a chance to jump ahead of Portugal in the Group F standings in their last match against Northern Ireland, and I think that will be fresh in their minds.
Russia has gone 3-0 at home in World Cup qualifying play—including a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland in July—and I don't expect that to change.
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