Unfortunately for Israel, a decent domestic league and a couple of stars plying their trade in the world's best leagues hasn't helped them qualify for a major tournament yet. On the evidence of their first match in World Cup qualifying, 2014 isn't going to be their year. They drew away to Azerbaijan, and only because of an absolute stunner by Bibras Natkho in stoppage time. On Tuesday, they face stiffer competition in Russia.
The Russians didn't inspire much confidence on Friday, as they struggled to beat a mediocre Northern Ireland side 2-0 in front of a half-empty Lokomotiv Stadium. Fabio Capello is going to expect a much better performance from his side against Israel, especially considering that they take on Portugal, their biggest rivals for an automatic spot in the World Cup, in just one month.
New starter Viktor Fayzulin, who has been able to break into the Zenit St. Petersburg and Russia sides due to an injury to Danny and Andrei Arshavin's lack of club playing time, was his side's biggest positive on Friday. He was excellent all match long and scored his first goal in a national team shirt. If Capello gets anything but points out of these matches, it's that he might have a new star on the wing.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. local
Venue: Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
TV: Sportsnet World (Canada)
Online: ESPN3 (U.S.)