Russia vs Saudi Arabia
FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group A
Date: Thursday, 14th June 2018
Kick-Off at 16:00 UK/ 17:00 CET
Venue: Luzhniki Arena (Moscow).
The wait is finally over and the biggest football festival in the globe kick starts on Thursday with host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Match Preview
The hosts are tipped as heavy favorites, but both teams come on the background of terrible runs. The Russians especially are without a win in the calendar year 2018 and their last win date back to October 2017. Their current run is a 7 games win-less with 3 draws and 4 losses.
There are fear among the home fans that their team may not go past the tricky group that includes a strong Uruguay and Egypt. To make things worse, Stanislav Cherchesov has the worst win ratio as a Russian national team head-coach, 26.31% since he took charge in 2016. The next worse is hold by Russia Georgi Yartsev, who saw a 42.11% win ratio during his tenure between 2003 and 2005.
Saudi Arabia on the other hand, are having problems at the management. The former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is the third head-coach in the space of 10 months and he got little time to settle with the squad. The match against Russia on Thursday will be his 10th game in charge and is yet to find his best formation and starting eleven.
As a manager, Pizzi managed just 3 wins from the 9 games in charge, drew 1 and lost 5 in the process. Their defense has been all around the place during the period, conceding 16 goals in the process.
The other two teams in Group A, Egypt and Uruguay lock horns at the Yekaterinburg Arena in first of the three World Cup matches on Friday, 15th June 2018.
Russia Team News
Stanislav Cherchesov is still unsure about his best starting eleven. However, we feel that he will make his selection for the tournament opener based on form and reputation.
It is worth to note that Aleksandr Kokorin is not a part of the team, who is sidelined with the anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up against RB Leipzig in the Europa League game on March 2018. His absence is a huge blow to the team in finding goals in tough situations.
Russia Predicted Starting Line-up (3-5-2)
Igor Akinfeev – Ignashevich, Smolnikov, Vasin – Samedov, Dzagoev, Golovin, Yerokhin, Zhirkov – Smolov, Dzyuba.
Saudi Arabia Team News
Juan Antonio Pizzi has been experimenting a whole lot with the starting eleven in the friendlies. But he is expected to get back to the experienced players here.
The national team’s highest goal scorer Mohammad Al-Sahlawi is one of the players overlooked in most of the friendlies. He could get his name of the starting eleven as the lone striker at the expense of the ineffective Muhannad Assiri.
Saudi Arabia Predicted Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Al-Mayouf – Al-Harbi, Omar Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani – Al-Faraj, Al-Khaibri – Al-Shehri, Al-Dawsari, Al-Jassim – Mohammad Al-Sahlawi.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Head-to-head
The only meeting so far between the two sides came in a friendly back in 1993. Saudi Arabia defeated Russia by a 4-2 margin.
Russia’s record at the Luzhniki Stadium is 19 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses from 31 matches. They were hammered 3-0 by Brazil in the last match here.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Predictions
These teams come with a vulnerabilities in every department and this match could be termed as a battle of the equals. To be precise, either managers will be thinking that this is their best opponent to register a win against.
However, the bookies consider Russia are strong favorites to win this one, but we believe this will not be an easy cake walk for the hosts. Therefore, make full use of the Asian Handicap markets and back the visitors not to lose by more than 1 goal. So, here we have our first pick for World Cup 2018, i.e. Saudi +1.5 AH for 1.65 odd.
There two are the most vulnerable defenses I have come across in recent weeks, so there is a high chance that this match to produce some goals. Saudi conceded in each of their last 8 games, 2 or more in 7 of them. Russia on the other hand in their last 10 in all competitions. So, bank on both teams to score at least once each, we consider this as a value bet.
Correct Full-Time Score Prediction: Russia 2-1 Saudi @ 10.00 odds
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Betting Tips
Saudi +1.5 Asian Handicap at 1.65 odd.
Both teams to Score at 2.65 odds.