Paulo Bento’s men may only sit one point behind their opponents at the top of Group F, but with two more games already under their belt, victory could be critical to their hopes of booking a place in Brazil next summer.
Fortunately for the hosts, they have only lost one of their last 35 qualifiers on home turf and are favourites at 5/6 (1.83) with Paddy Power to secure a crucial win in Lisbon.
Fabio Capello has led his new charges to four wins in four competitive matches since taking the reins a year ago, but his side are outsiders at 3/1 (4.00) to recreate October’s victory against this opposition.
The Seleccao have drawn three of their last five games and you can get odds of 5/2 (3.50) on them being held to another stalemate here.
Capello was often criticised during his tenure with England for a supposedly conservative style of play, but his tactics have so far served to take Russia to the next level.
The Sbornaya are yet to concede a single goal in qualifying so far and are looking even more watertight than under predecessor Dick Advocaat, when they let in just four goals in 10 games on the way to Euro 2012.
The canny Italian is sure to set his team up to frustrate the hosts on Friday, meaning a low-scoring match seems likely, with odds of 4/6 (1.67) well worth backing on under 2.5 goals going in.
That bet would have paid out in 29 of the Russians’ last 37 games, so should be more than safe under their current boss.
While they will have to work hard to break their stubborn visitors down, Bento’s men will also need to be wary of Roman Shirokov’s runs from midfield on the counterattack.
The Zenit St Petersburg man has scored nine goals in his last 16 games for the national side and his expertise from the penalty spot makes him all the more enticing at 11/2 (6.50) to hit the back of the net on Friday.
|Under 2.5 goals at 4/6 (1.67) with Paddy Power
||Roman Shirokov to score anytime at 11/2 (6.50) with Paddy Power|
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Al Hain-Cole is an experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.