Russia Over 1.5 team goals at 2.09 with Pinnacle - 1.5 units (min 1.91)

Slovakia

  • The Slovaks are coming off an embarrassing 2-2 with the 5th worst-ranked nation in Europe (Malta)
  • Before that they drew 0-0 with Cyprus (and lost the xG and shot count)
  • Over the last calendar year, Slovakia have conceded 1.95xGA per 90 mins with an average of 14 shots against.
  • What's concerning about that xGA is the fact that they've been playing a lot of poor/average teams (Malta, Cyprus, Czech's, Northern Ireland, Rep of Ireland, Scotland, Israel)
  • The team that would come closest to Russia's level would be the Czech Rep; in their two games with their neighbours, they conceded five goals with 5.86xGA (lost both)
  • Under current coach, Stefan Tarkovic Slovakia have recorded just one win over a team in the FIFA top 50, that came against Scotland.
  • The Scotland result was a fluke (1-0 win, 0.24-1.33xG in Scotlands favour) and kind of a meaningless game for the Scottish; they were coming off a playoff win against Serbia.
  • Slovakia's backline looks very weak to me. 35 year old Dušan Kuciak (Lechia Gdańsk) will start ahead of the injured/Ill Martin Dúbravka. He's conceded 3 goals off the last 7 shots he's faced at International level
  • The backline will, of course, feature their standout player Milan Škriniar (doesn't excel at an International level) as well as Holúbek (Piast Gliwice), Koscelník (Slovan Liberec) and Martin Valjent (Mallorca).

Russia

  • Russia are in a commanding position in Group H now after taking 6 points. However, they shouldn't take the foot off the pedal here with Croatia likely to turn things around after their disappointing start.
  • Last time out against Slovenia, Russia ran out 2-1 winners generating 1.45xG. Slovenia are a lot more responsible defensively, so no shame in that xG score/result.
  • Over the last calendar year, Russia have travelled to Malta, Serbia, Turkey, and Hungary; from those 4 games, they have averaged 2 goals per 90 and 2.08xG.
  • In their last qualification campaign, they failed to score 2+ just once on the road, which came when they lost 3-1 to Belgium.
  • There shouldn't be too many changes from the Slovenia game; some have suggested that Miranchuck could replace Golovin.

Final word: Slovakia are in decline, and I think Russia take full advantage of that here, I had considered playing Russia to win the game (1.9), but I think with their defensive issues, this represents better value.