Russia vs Saudi Arabia prediction: Russia 3-1 Saudi Arabia
Up against the lowest-ranked side in the competition, in front of their own fans (and President Putin), anything less than three points for Russia would be disappointing.
Saudi Arabia will be without their talisman, but recent matches against Germany and Italy have proved that they’re no pushovers.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia: Who will win?
Russia are overwhelming favourites to win the opener of World Cup 2018 – with odds of 4/9 with Bet365.
A Saudi Arabia victory can be backed at very attractive odds of 9/1.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia match preview
The 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday! Hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
It may not be the most glamorous opening match in World Cup history, but it is likely to be an entertaining one.
The two sides were drawn together in Group A, alongside Egypt and Uruguay who play each other on Friday.
The draw was kind to the hosts, who will consider it a massive failure should they not progress to the knockout stage.
Russia’s lead-up to the World Cup has hardly been inspiring. Three of their four matches this year have ended in defeat.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s side finished their preparations with a 1-1 draw against Turkey. Aleksandr Samedov scored Russia’s goal.
As hosts, Russia did not have to play any qualifying matches for the tournament and were automatically seeded in Pot 1 for the draw.
Can Saudi Arabia cause an upset in the opening game?
The Green Falcons have already played nine matches in 2018, far more than most sides in the competition. They do, however, come into Thursday’s match on the back of three warm-up defeats.
Most recently, Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men put on a respectable show in Germany, losing 2-1 to the World Champions. Saudi Arabia lost by the same scoreline against Italy before suffering a 3-0 defeat to Peru.
Saudi Arabia will be making their fourth appearance at the World Cup. Saudi Arabia were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the World Cup. Their last win at the finals came in 1994, where the Green Falcons made the last 16.
Home advantage should play a role on Thursday night. All but two members of Russia’s 23-man squad play their football domestically.
Russia team news vs Saudi Arabia
First-choice defenders Dmitri Kombarov and Viktor Vasin both miss the tournament through injury, meaning the Russians are likely to field a flat back four, rather than a central back three.
38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich – the second-oldest outfielder at the World Cup – is likely to start at the heart of Russia’s defence. Mario Fernandes and Igor Smolnikov will battle it out for the starting right-back berth.
Former Chelsea midfielder Yury Zhirkov is back in training and is expected to start out on the left.
Alan Dzagoev provides an alternative attacking option for head coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
Saudi Arabia team news vs Russia
Saudi Arabia will be without star player Nawaf Al-Abed who misses out through injury. Al-Abed was Saudi’s top scorer in qualifying with 5 goals.
Likely to play on the break, Salem Al-Dawsari and Fahad Al-Mullawad look to be Saudi Arabia’s pacy outlets.
Captain Osama Hawsawi and Taisir Al-Jassim provide experience in Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad. The pair have 267 international caps between them.
Russia predicted line-up vs Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia predicted line-up vs Saudi ArabiaFor more World Cup betting tips click here.
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
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— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) June 10, 2018
— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) June 11, 2018