Russia fell to second place after losing away from home to Portugal, but they have two games in hand and are bound to return to the first place. They traveled to Northern Ireland for a game postponed in June and they are favorites to prevail against a team that won its last game two years ago.

Match: Northern Ireland vs Russia

Bet: Northern Ireland +1.5 goals

Odds: Pinnacle Sports 1.80

Northern Ireland is eliminated from the competition as they sit on the second to last place with five games remaining and there is no way for them to close the gap. Nevertheless, the Irish fighting spirit should emerge once again as the crowds are looking forward for the next two games against Russia and Portugal. Following an undefeated streak of four games, today’s hosts succumbed to Israel by two goals to none and their defensive issues turned chronic. Before that, they drew four games with the same score 1-1 and this is the kind of results that Northern Ireland will be aiming tonight.

Russia was on the verge of winning a friendly game against Brazil earlier this year but the hosts leveled the score in overtime to deny victory for the Europeans. Now they need to extract the most from the next two games against subpar opponents as Russia is set to face Luxembourg after traveling to Northern Ireland. Six points are expected from these two matches, but Capello is more concerned to avoid injuries.

BetPal Tip:

The remaining five games in the qualifying campaign should be merely a formality for Russia, so winning the group is only a matter of time. Tonight, the hosts will put up a decent fight and with odds of 1.80 offered by Pinnacle Sports for Northern Ireland not to lose by two goals or more, this appears to be the best wager for this fixture.