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Despite improving markedly recently, Al Hain-Cole expects Luc Holtz's minnows to struggle without a couple of key players when the Sbornaya visit the Stade Josy Barthel

Russia can book their place in next summer’s World Cup with a game to spare when they travel to the Stade Josy Barthel to take on Luxembourg on Friday.

Fabio Capello’s men would move an untouchable four points clear of second-placed Portugal with one game remaining should they come out on top in Luxembourg City, an eventuality you can back at odds of just 1/20 (1.05) with Paddy Power.

However, having lost just two of their last six matches, Les Lions Rouges are in their best form in recent memory and are available at 28/1 (29.00) to pull off a shock third win in four against a nation with a population almost 300 times greater than their own.

The Sbornaya are yet to draw a competitive game under Capello’s command, but there are odds of 12/1 (13.00) on offer on them coming away with just a single point in this one.

After four wins from the first four qualifiers it seemed that Russia were cruising serenely toward next summer’s main event in Brazil, only for consecutive 1-0 defeats against Portugal and Northern Ireland to know bring them crashing back down to earth.

Those results seemed to act as a wake-up call for the visitors, who reacted by sweeping aside today’s opponents 4-1 in Kazan before running out 3-1 winners against Israel, and they will be confident of completing the job on Friday.

The euphoria surrounding Luxembourg’s recent performances have been slightly deflated by the suspension of star man Aurelien Joachim, whose three goals in his last three games included a last-minute consolation in the away tie against these opponents.

With Maxime Chanot also ruled out through injury, Luc Holtz is without two of the only four professionals at his disposal, and must fear for his side as they take on a European giant going all out for victory.

With Capello's men back on song, it would be no surprise if they put in an away performance similar to their 4-0 win in Israel, and odds of 5/6 (1.83) offer excellent value on them winning by at least three goals.
 
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Russia -2 to win for a 1.5pt stake at 5/6 (1.83) 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.

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