1:29 – Artem Dzyuba scored 1 minute and 29 seconds after coming on, the fastest substitute to do so in the World Cup since Marcin Zewlakow (Poland v USA) on 14/06/2002 (1:04). Impact.#WorldCup#RUSKSApic.twitter.com/huS3DRwCDQ
Ramos: "You have to turn the page ASAP. These are moments for nothing pleasant. Julen has been a part of this project. I don't appreciate the situation but Spain must be above any individual now. Few people can occupy this void to take charge & Hierro is one of them." pic.twitter.com/MEvRdtpBiX
That’s a huge blow for Russia. All the talk before the tournament has been about Golovin but Dzagoev is every bit as good. You can’t say much for Russia’s midfield generally so that’s a real shame. #RUSSAU
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Russia vs Saudi Arabia live streaming & Watch: USA & Australia
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Russia vs Saudi Arabia live streaming: Match preview
If Russia versus the Saudis wasn’t the opening game of the 2018 World Cup, how many people would tune in?
That hypothetical question can be pushed to one side on Thursday, as the entire football loving world will be tuning in for the opening match of the World Cup.
For the home nation, the pressure to beat the Green Flacons will be immense.
With Egypt and Uruguay also in the group – they face each other on Friday – the Russians need a victory against the Saudis. That will give the hosts the best chance of qualifying to the second round.
With Saudi Arabia and Russia placing as the two lowest rank teams in the World Cup. In terms of a football spectacle it might be overshadowed by the opening ceremony expected to consist of some famous Russian dancing and incredible antics.
One positive omen for Russia: no home nation has ever lost the opening game of the World Cup.
BRUGGE, BELGIUM – NOVEMBER 14: A detailed view of the match ball from the World Cup in Russia 2018 during the international friendly match between Belgium and Japan held at Jan Breydel Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Brugge, Belgium. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
What to expect from Russia vs Saudi Arabia
Russia will be hoping their premium talent Alexandr Golovin, who is strongly linked with Juventus at the moment, can make his name at this World Cup!
Golovin is known for having excellent technique, combined with pace, tenacity and vision, he will hope to click with Russia’s previous World Cup breakout star Alan Dzagoev in the midfield, who possesses similar qualities.
Together they will form a very dynamic duo who will look to to add some direct running, pace and fluidity to Russia’s counter attack before picking the right pass to kill off Saudi Arabia.
Together they will also form the creative cortex of the team, looking to stamp their authority on the game and dictate the tempo to their own terms to dominate the Green Falcons
Smolov who is a household Russian name will look to be running the channels with his pace between the two Hawasi defenders for Saudi Arabia in the hope of picking off one of Dzagoev or Golovin’s passes over the top or into space.
He has good movement off the ball, combined with pace and great finishing he will be Russia’s main hope to putting the ball into the back of the net. The team must look for him if they are to win and progress.
Saudi Arabia are a team that successfully navigated through the group stages under Bert Van Marwijk only for him to leave for Australia after qualification.
The Green Falcons under the leadership of Juan Pizzi will hope to galvanise as a unified squad if they are to progress through the group stages. With no apparent stars their strength lies rather in unity. Saudi Arabia will look to spoil Russia’s opening party.
Saudi Arabia will hope to feed the ball into Fahad Al Muwallad from Levante who is absolutely rapid and will look to run the Russian defence ragged with his pace.
Faraj with his midfield partner will look to take on Dzagoev and Golovin in a midfield battle of pace versus guile. The key to winning this game will be to be effective in the counter attack and to punish the opposition’s mistakes.