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Malta vs Russia prediction, preview, team news and more | 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying

Russia have been punching above their weight in recent years
Russia have been punching above their weight in recent years
Sachin Bhat
ANALYST
Modified 23 Mar 2021
Feature

Russia begin their quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup away to minnows Malta at the Ta'Qali National Stadium on Wednesday.

The hosts of the 2018 showpiece are looking to qualify for the main event for a third consecutive time and a 12th time overall.

Stanislav Cherchesov's side marched all the way to the quarter-finals on home soil. They continued their terrific run by storming through their Euro 2020 qualifying group.

With eight wins from 10 games, the national team secured a direct spot at the upcoming championship. They've been drawn alongside powerhouse Belgium, Denmark and debutants Finland in the group stage of Euro 2020.

However, their form since the Nations League has nosedived.

After winning the opening two games, Russia picked up only two points from the next four, and remain winless in six games overall.

Malta could be the perfect opportunity to get themselves back on track as the Falcons are one of the weakest European sides.

Ranked at a lowly 176, the tiny Mediterranean island rarely ever win qualifiers, but an impressive Nations League campaign last year should give them confidence.


Malta vs Russia Head-To-Head

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The sides have never met in a competitive fixture, however, Malta and Russia once locked horns in a 1996 friendly, with the latter winning 2-0.

Malta Form Guide (all competitions): D-W-W-W-D

Russia Form Guide (all competitions): D-D-L-L-L


Malta vs Russia Team News

Malta

Many veteran players have been called up for the upcoming triple-header. This includes Adrei Agius, who has 97 caps under his belt, as well as Zach Muscat, Steve Borg, and Luke Gambin.

Midfielder Rowen Muscat and forward Jean Paul Farrugia are out injured and will miss the first batch of qualifiers.

Injured: Rowen Muscat and Jean Paul Farrugia

Suspended: None

Unavailable: None

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Russia

Stanislav Cherchesov has named a strong squad featuring marquee names such as Yuri Zhirkov, Monaco's Aleksandr Golovin, Atalanta's Aleksei Miranchuk and skipper Artem Dzyuba.

However, Denis Cheryshev and Roman Zobnin are out injured, and striker Fydor Smolov hasn't been called up.

Injured: Denis Cheryshev and Roman Zobnin

Suspended: None

Unavailable: Fydor Smolov


Malta vs Russia Predicted XI

Malta (3-4-2-1): Henry Bonello; Kurt Shaw, Andrei Agius, Steve Borg; Joseph Mbong, Myles Beerman, Teddy Teuma, Ryan Camenzuli; Luke Gambin, Jurgen Degabriele; Luke Montebello.

Russia (3-4-2-1): Andrey Lunyov; Andrei Semyonov, Georgi Dzhikiya, Fyodor Kudryashov; Daler Kuzyayev, Mario Fernandes, Magomed Ozdoyev, Yuri Zhirkov; Aleksei Miranchuk, Aleksandr Golovin; Artem Dzyuba.


Malta vs Russia Prediction

Russia have grown into a menacing outfit lately and should be able to see off Malta with ease.

Prediction: Malta 0-2 Russia

Published 23 Mar 2021, 00:21 IST
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