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Oct 11, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
Ilicic (40')
Sporar (1'), Gnezda Cerin (27'), Verbic (51'), Bijol (77'), Rogelj (90+2'), Lovric (90+6')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Diveyev (28'), Dzhikiya (32')
Sutormin (42')

Preview: Slovenia vs. Russia - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Slovenia vs. Russia - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Monday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Slovenia and Russia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Slovenia will be aware that nothing less than a win will be required when they host Russia in their World Cup 2022 qualification match in Maribor on Monday evening.

The hosts currently find themselves in third place, one position but six points behind their opponents ahead of the vital meeting, with only two matches each to follow in Group H.

Match preview

Slovenia did manage to keep their slim hopes of reaching next year's global tournament alive on Friday, when they comfortably defeated Malta 4-0 in the Ta' Qali National Stadium.

Dominating from start to finish, the result was never in doubt after Atalanta's Josip Ilicic gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half, before he doubled his goal tally in the second half, sandwiched between goals from Andraz Sporar and Benjamin Sesko.

However, victories for their group rivals above them on the same evening meant that Kekci failed to gain any ground on the occupied playoff and qualification spots.

Head coach Matjaz Kek boasts a fairly impressive record in charge of his national side, achieving 13 wins from 27 matches during his spell at the helm of the world's 64th-ranked nation.

With just two appearances at the World Cup finals before - in 2002 and 2010 - Kek knows his team will be required to win each of their final three qualification matches in order to stand a chance of reaching a third, starting on Monday.

As for Russia, a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Slovakia on Friday means that they head into this encounter level on points with Croatia at the top of Group H, positioned below them in second place only on goal difference.

After a poor display at this summer's European Championship saw them exit at the group stage, the Russians have responded well with an unbeaten four-match streak, in which they are yet to concede a goal.

A draw with fellow table-toppers Croatia has been followed by narrow victories over Cyprus and Malta, before adding the win over Slovakia most recently.

However, the 1-0 scoreline fails to tell the true story of Friday's match, where the hosts saw just 26% of the ball and managed just a single shot on target, in comparison to 27 attempts from their opponents.

At this stage of the qualifying campaign, the result would have been the most important factor for head coach Valeri Karpin, although there will be no doubts that he will be concerned with the outcome of future matches if his side were to continue to play in that manner.

An improved performance will be required immediately on Monday, as they will be expecting Slovenia to make a blistering start and come out fighting as they search for a vital victory over the Russians.

Slovenia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Slovenia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Russia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Russia form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Slovenia were grateful that key man Ilicic came through a late fitness test to start in Malta on Friday, before playing a key role in the comfortable victory.

Zan Karnicnik made his debut at right-back in place of the injured Petar Stojanovic, but with no fresh injury concerns, the head coach could name an unchanged lineup off the back of an impressive display last time out.

Meanwhile, Russia remain without key players like Aleksandr Golovin, Artem Dzyuba and Denis Cheryshev in their squad, so head coach Karpin sees his quality limited ahead of the trip to Maribor.

Changes to the lineup should be expected in order to produce a response to the poor performance on Friday, despite the result.

Slovenia possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Karnicnik, Bijol, Mevlja, Balkovec; Cerin, Kurtic; Ilicic, Lovric, Verbic; Sporar

Russia possible starting lineup:
Safonov; Sutormin, Diveev, Dzhikiya, Terekhov; Kuzyaev, Barinov, Fomin; Bakaev, Smolov, Zabolotnyi

We say: Slovenia 1-0 Russia

Home advantage could be key here for the Slovenians, as they search for a vital win against a Russia side that performed so poorly despite victory last time out.

Although the visitors find themselves level on points at the top of the group, we think the hosts will carry their momentum from Friday into this one and pick up a narrow win during a tight encounter between two stubborn defences.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a draw or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Draw/Away:data

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