Russia vs. Saudi Arabia / World Cup – A match between the host Russia and the team of Saudi Arabia, which will be played on Thursday, marks the start of the most anticipated sport event this year – World Cup, which will be held for the first time in the largest country in the world from 14 June to 15 July. Otherwise, the team of Uruguay and Egypt are also in this group, which will meet a day later, while we should also add that this is only the second mutual duel between Russia and Saudi Arabia in history, with the proviso that the first was played in late 1993 in Riyadh, when Saudi Arabia celebrated in a friendly match with 4-2. Begins: 14.06.2018. – 17:00 CET
However, the team of Russia is now in the role of a host, and thus has the role of a favourite, regardless of the fact that they are welcoming this championship is in a very bad shape. Namely, Cherches' bosses in the last seven appearances included only three rhymes and even four defeats, despite having played six times on the domestic pitch. But they have experienced three of these four defeats by the world's greats, Argentina, Brazil and France, while they lost with 1-0 at the end of last month when they played in Austria. On the other hand, they have been defeated last year against Iran and Spain, as well as in the last friendly match before the World Cup, when they played 1-1 against Turkey.
Otherwise, coach Cherchesov was constantly making changes in the starting lineup in all of these matches, all in order to find the ideal 11 for this first match at the World Cup against Saudi Arabia, which is certainly their greatest chance of winning the group stage, considering they will later meet with a lot of stronger teams, like Egypt and Uruguay. We should also add that it is a bit surprising that Cherchesov has been given a longer time to experienced Ignashevich, Zhirkov and Samedov, so we expect them as starters against Saudi Arabia, especially since defenders Jiki, Vasin, Schennikov, midfielders Glushakov and Shatov, and striker Kokorin are all out of action due to injuries.
Probable lineups Russia: Akinfeev – Granat, Ignashevich, Kudryashov – Fernandes, Golovin, Dzagoev, Zhirkov – Samedov, Al.Miranchuk – Smolov
Although consider them as absolute outsiders at this World Cup in Russia, the team of Saudi Arabia has in recent friendly matches with Italy and Germany shown they are not at all naïve because they lost with only one goal difference, while between these two matches only Peru succeeded to overcome them with convincing 3-0. Previously, they celebrated in friendly matches with Algiers and Greece, while they were also very good in qualifiers for the World Cup, and as a second in their group they made direct placement in Russia, with only one point less than the first Japan and with the same number of points but also a better goal difference than third Australia.
Otherwise, this is the fifth appearance for Saudi Arabia in the world championships, because they have missed the last two World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, so this is a brand new generation now on the scene, led by the young Spanish coach Pizzi. He took over this team late last year, after their placement on the World Cup, when they somewhat surprisingly ended the cooperation with Dutchman Marwijk, who will still be in Russia as the new coach of the national team of Australia. As for the team of Saudi Arabia, Pizzi will probably for this first round match with Russia, send almost the same forces to the field, which has recently opposed very well to the Italians and Germans.
Probable lineups Saudi Arabia: Al-Muaiouf – Al-Burayk, Os.Hawsawi, Om. Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani – Al-Faraj, Ateef – Al-Shehri, Al-Jassim, Al-Dawsari – Al-Sahlawi
Russia vs. Saudi Arabia PICK
Even though the Saudis have played quite good in their recent friendly matches with Italy and Germany, we predict their defeat in this first appearance at the World Cup in Russia, given that this match is the best chance to come to a victory in the group stage, because they will later have a lot harder matches with Egypt and Uruguay.
Pick: Asian Handicap -1 Russia
Odds: 1.79 at betvictor (down to 1.74 can be played)