Russia vs Slovakia Preview 08/10/2021

Maksim Konstantinov /

UEFA World Cup qualifying Group H goes into matchday 7 on Thursday night. Russia will host Slovakia in Kazan as both national teams desperately seek maximum points.

Russia head into the game with 13 points from 18 on offer. A win or draw could take them to the top of Group H depending on Croatia’s result in Cyprus.

Новое видео со сборов – Кафанов занимается с вратарями, Карпин руководит процессом, Сафонов рассказывает о повязке, а Кузяев «роняет» инстаграм!#НашиПарни

— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) October 5, 2021

As it stands, Russia are second in the group and occupy the World Cup playoff place. Slovakia are third going into the game and have taken nine points from 18 possible.

A win for the Slovakians would improve their hope of making the playoffs or potentially winning the group. A loss for Slovakia against Russia and hope of World Cup qualification would practically be eliminated.

Russia go into the game unbeaten in three straight matches. A nil-nil draw with Croatia was followed by a 2-0 win over Cyprus and a 2-0 victory over Malta. Three straight games have passed without Russia conceding a goal.

Slovakia have blown hot and cold in recent matches. Their most recent World Cup qualifying win, a 2-0 victory over Cyprus, ended a four-match winless streak.

While Slovakia have not been good in recent matches, they did claim a 2-1 win at home over Russia earlier this year in World Cup qualifying. Milan Skriniar and Robert Mak scored on either side of a Mario Fernandes goal for Russia.

Russia have played well against Slovakia since the teams’ first match in 1994. However, Slovakia hold a slight edge over the Russians with a record of 4W-3D-3L. Slovakia have won the last two games against Russia.

Valeri Karpin has done well with Russia since taking over on a short-term contract. He has a squad mostly made up of Russian-based players.

The domestic league has received plenty of criticism in recent seasons for a lack of progression in European competitions.

The manager has a lack of potential players competing abroad to select from, however. Forward Fyodor Smolov should lead the line and will hope to add to his 15 international goals.

Monaco’s Aleksandr Golovin could be deployed as one of the team’s chief creators.

Slovakia are short on quality in the final third. They have scored seven times in six games in World Cup qualifying.

Midfielders Juraj Kucka and Marek Hamsik should hold down the centre of the park. Even with Hamsik being 34, he can still open up defences.

The first match between these sides finished 2-1 in Slovakia. For their return fixture, the game should be more low scoring with under 2.5 goals going into the back of the net.

Both sides need points and with that need so great, ultimately, Thursday’s game in Kazan should finish in a scoreless draw.

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