Best Odds: 17/20
World Cup hosts Russia lock horns with South American giants Argentina who arrive to the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Luzhniki led by Barcelona superstar Leo Messi.
Having successfully hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup this summer, Russia is now going knees deep into their 2018 FIFA World Cup preparations. Sbornaya kick it off strong with a friendly international against one of the most exciting teams in the world, Argentina. The forthcoming clash will be a valuable test and a chance for Stanislav Cherchesov’s men to gain valuable experience ahead of the showpiece tournament.
Russia have not had the best of results recently. Sbornaya did not take part in the World Cup qualifiers and have gone through a string of friendly matches instead which, let’s be honest, do not have the same competitive weight and could not be valid parameters to determine one’s form and quality. Having crashed out of Euro 2016 with only a point after three group games in France, Russia also failed to go further than group stage at the Confederations Cup. the October internationals saw Russia beat South Korea 4-2 and draw with Iran 1-1, respectively, and Argentina will undoubtedly provide Sbornaya with a tough test on home soil ahead of another similar one – against Spain next Tuesday.
Russia boss called 27 players for forthcoming friendlies.
Experienced CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev leads the list which includes several changes in defence with Fenerbahce defender Roman Neustadter and Koln shot stopper Konstantin Rausch expected to command the backline.
Questions were raised over Argentina’s chances to get into the World Cup in Russia following three consecutive draws in the qualifiers against Uruguay, Venezuela and most worryingly Peru at home.
Barcelona star Leo Messi was once again at the receiving end of intense criticism from the hot-headed public, but one of world’s greatest-ever players stepped up to the plate in a crucial game at Ecuador to score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win which secured World Cup qualification for Jorge Sampaoli’s men. Having successfully avoided a play-off scare, the forthcoming clash is a chance to regroup for the World Cup. Argentina are currently on a positive run of results having last lost in March 2013 but the expectations are always high with hot-tempered South Americans who will be keen to see their team put in a good show against the World Cup hosts. Jorge Sampaoli is expected to make plenty of changes to his line-up but Leo Messi is fully seen as a starter.
Sergio Aguero is set to return to the starting line-up to replace Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi who was forced out of the squad due to injury.
German Pezzella and Giovalni Lo Celso are pushing strong for their Argentina debuts.
Key Factors to Consider
- Argentina are unbeaten in last 6 matches
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in last three of 4 Argentina’s matches
- Russia failed to keep a clean sheet in last four games
- Leo Messi scored a hat-trick for his country in crucial Ecuador qualifier
- Argentina beat Russia 3-2 in their previous and only encounter thus far
Russia are out of form and out of shape which their inconsistency in results is a clear indicator of. Meanwhile, constantly scrutinized Argentina will be under pressure to perform well against the World Cup hosts and we fully expect Jorge Sampaoli’s men to display a full arsenal of their individual quality.
Best Odds: 17/20
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