Germany lead the way in Group 4 by just a point from the Russians, both teams having six wins from their opening seven matches. The Germans face Azerbaijan in Hannover tomorrow, expecting a comfortable victory over the minnows who have lost six and drawn one of their qualifiers - while Guus Hiddink's Russia will expect a far more taxing encounter against Wales in Cardiff.
Wins for both Germany and Russia will set up a tantalising showdown between the two countries in Moscow on 10 October. A trip to the Russian capital is never easy, and Germany coach Joachim Low is therefore hoping the Welsh can do his side a favour at the Millennium Stadium.
Azerbaijan may be out of the running to reach South Africa, but the team's German coach Berti Vogts insists he will not be looking to do any favours for his compatriots tomorrow. "I don't have a team who can just go out to defend," he said. "My players don't want to hide from anybody."
Fourth-placed Wales are all but out of qualifying contention and need an unlikely sequence of results to reach South Africa. The Russians are set to be bolstered by the return of Arsenal playmaker Andrey Arshavin, who missed Saturday's 3-0 win over Liechtenstein with a groin strain.
Hiddink is expecting a stern test against a Welsh side with much to prove. "I don't see any sense in comparing our games with Liechtenstein and Wales, since our clash in Cardiff will be more challenging," said the former Chelsea caretaker boss.
"It will represent a real battle, because British players always fight till the very last minute. Self-efficiency is the main factor for me. If our players have no problems with it in Cardiff, we will stand a good chance of victory."
Defeat to Hiddink's men tomorrow will officially end Welsh hopes. A win would breathe fresh life into the chances of both John Toshack's side and third-placed Finland, who visit Liechtenstein in Vaduz in tomorrow's other group encounter.
The Finns - after four wins, a draw and two losses - are just five points behind the Russians with three matches to play, and can move to within a victory of overhauling Hiddink's side in second place if results fall their way tomorrow.