Austria failed to qualify for this summer's tournament after finishing behind Serbia, Republic of Ireland and Wales in their group, but they have won each of their last five matches.
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There are just over two weeks until the start of the World Cup now, when the whole planet's gaze will be on Russia for what has already been a very controversial before a ball has even been kicked. Austria will not be there themselves, but they are favourites for tonight's match given the form of these two teams.
Let's start with a look at the team news...
Well, Marko Arnautovic is the headline inclusion for Austria, with the West Ham United forward expected to lead the line for the home side tonight having thrived in that role during the latter half of the Premier League season just finished.
Arnautovic is the most experienced player in the Austria squad with 69 caps to his name, and he is also the highest scorer with 19 goals. The frontman netted 11 times for West Ham in 2017-18.
Baumgartlinger will captain the team, and he - along with that Premier League trio - are the only players in the side with more than 60 appearances for their country.
There are also five uncapped players in the squad, although none of them make their debuts tonight. Indeed, it is an inexperienced Austrian squad on the whole. with 17 of their 27-man roster having fewer than 10 caps to their names.
In general this Russian squad is perhaps not as experienced as many others in the past few years, but there are still plenty of wise old heads out there.
Smolov has 12 international goals to his name, although Artem Dzyuba is perhaps the one to look out for in that squad - he has 11 goals in 22 caps, making him the only other player to have hit double figures from the current crop.
Interestingly, only three of the 35-man preliminary squad play their club football outside Russia, but none of them feature this evening.
Tonight's hosts come into this match off the back of five consecutive victories across all competitions stretching back to September, having won just one of their previous nine outings before that.
Austria last won five games in a row while qualifying for Euro 2016, and they have not managed six on the bounce since 1997, 21 years ago. They could achieve that tonight - indeed they are favourites to do so.
Austria's next two matches after this evening see them take on Germany on Saturday and Brazil the following Sunday, so they will provide the opposition for two of the main favourites to lift the trophy this summer.
Austria eventually finished fourth in their standings, six points adrift of group winners Serbia and also behind Republic of Ireland and Wales, both of whom ultimately also missed out on the World Cup.
Another important factor in missing out was that their three defeats all came against one of the teams that finished above them in the standings and, while they also managed to claim a win over Serbia in the penultimate game, they took just a point from both Ireland and Wales.
Since then Austria are unbeaten in seven, and if they avoid defeat again tonight then they would make that eight for the first time since 1996. Even more impressively, if they win tonight then they would record four successive home victories for the first time since 1981.
As is tradition, Russia will kick the tournament off on Thursday, June 14 at the Luzhniki Stadium, although it must be said that the opening match is not exactly a cracker, with the hosts taking on Saudi Arabia.
Since then, Russia's World Cup has ended at the first hurdle on each of their three previous occasions - in 1994, 2002 and 2014. Four years ago in Brazil they also failed to win a single game in a group which included Belgium, Algeria and South Korea.
There was a golden age for the country from 1958 to 1970, though, reaching at least the quarter-finals at all four World Cups during that time and recording a best finish of fourth in 1966.
Russia are winless in their last five outings, but the most recent four of those have come against Argentina, Spain, Brazil and France - losing three and sharing the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Spain. A draw with Iran prior to that was not too encouraging, but they have at least prepared themselves for the level of opposition they will need to face to get far in the competition.
Defeat would see them lose three games on the bounce for the first time since a run of six in 1998, and that would come with just one more match - against Turkey in Moscow next Tuesday - to go until the World Cup.
Aside from that, their World Cup preparations have come via friendly matches, although they have only won four of their 15 since the Euros two years ago, and just one of those wins came against a team that will also be at the World Cup.
Russia really need to return to winning ways tonight, and the form book for this one is slightly skewed by the fact that they have played such good opposition recently. Austria are nonetheless in good shape themselves, though, and this one could go either way. We're just siding with the hosts, though.
SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Austria 1-0 Russia
Both of those victories came during qualifying for Euro 2016, running out 1-0 winners home and away with goals from Marc Janko most recently and Ruben Okotie in November 2014.
The only other occasion these two nations have come up against each other came in May 2004, and that one ended up as a goalless draw.
Austria sit 26th in the rankings whereas Russia are 66th, although that will be largely down to the fact that they have had so few competitive fixtures in the past two years.
AUSTRIA STARTING XI: Linder; Schaub, Dragovic, Prodl, Hinteragger; Zulj, Arnautovic, Baumgartlinger, Schopf, Lainer; Kainz
RUSSIA STARTING XI: Akinfeev; Fernandes, Ignashevich, Granat, Kudryashov; Zobnin, Kuzyaev, Zhirkov; Samedov, Smolov, Golovin
It is a really good goal too, with Kainz releasing Arnautovic, who raced on to the ball before cutting inside and looking for support in the middle. Schopf and Zulj were roaring into the box in support, and Schopf swept a fine finish past the keeper.
Austria will be by far the happier team with their performance too, having created the better chances and looked the most like adding to the scoring. Russia, meanwhile, look like they need a lot of work before the World Cup gets underway on June 14.
Arnautovic was played in down the right channel and managed to check back inside before picking out the right pass into the middle, teeing up two teammates who were making late runs into the box. Schopf and Zulj both seemed to meet the ball at the same time, but the goal was officially given to the former.
In contrast, Russia have offered very little in the final third so far, with their best opening of the match coming when Smolov had a snap-shot nine minutes before the interval which was always rising over the crossbar.
Alessandro Schopf's first-half goal proved to be the only one of the game, and while Russia improved in the second half, it was a deserved win for Austria. Russia need to improve drastically if they are to avoid an early World Cup exit on home soil next month!
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as Russia's losing run extends to three and winless streak stretches to six with just one more game to go until the World Cup. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for plenty more World Cup warm-up games over the coming days!
From me, though, its is goodbye for now!