Thursday 14 Jun

Russia vs Saudi Arabia - Match Preview

13 Jun 2018 Ed Mackey INTERNATIONAL: World Cup, Group A
INTERNATIONAL: World Cup, Group A

Russia

  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

vs

Kick-off
15:00 GMT
14 June 2018

Saudi Arabia

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Kick-off
15:00 GMT 14 June 2018

It is finally here. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is here after four years of waiting. Russia is primed and ready as the host country and they will kick off the biggest tournament on the planet. Russia face Saudi Arabia on Thursday afternoon looking to get a head start on the rest of Group A.

STATS

  • Russia didn’t have to worry about the qualification process due to having a guaranteed place at the World Cup because of being the host nation. This may have affected their preparations for the tournament and they are without a win in their last seven international matches. In their final warm-up match, they were held to a 1-1 draw with Turkey, who won’t be taking part.
  • Saudi Arabia finished 2nd in Group B of the AFC qualifying section which secured their automatic place at the tournament. They’ve lost all three of their last three friendlies, one of the reasons why they go into the World Cup as huge minnows. They did manage to hold keep Germany relatively quiet last time out, losing just 2-1.
  • Fyodor Smolov is expected to be used at Russia’s lone striker with a decent scoring record in his own country. He will be their main source of goals.
  • Mohamed Al-Sahlawi is Saudi Arabia’s main front man and his tireless work rate will look to gradually wear out opposition defenders, he could pose a big threat.

HEAD TO HEAD

These two nations will be mainly unknown to each other as they have met just once on the footballing stage. It was a friendly back in 1993 and Saudi Arabia came away with a 4-2 win, there wouldn’t be any mutual fans moaning about that amount of goal this time around! This will be Russia’s eighth appearance at a World Cup Finals while it is their opponents’ fifth.

RUSSIA NEWS

Two of Russia’s main absentees from the tournament come at the heart of their defence. Georgy Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin both tore their knee ligaments at the beginning of 2018. Alexander Kokorin is also a notable absence with the same injury.

Latest matches: Russia

05.06.2018 Int. Russia Turkey 1:1 D
30.05.2018 Int. Austria Russia 1:0 L
27.03.2018 Int. Russia France 1:3 L
23.03.2018 Int. Russia Brazil 0:3 L
14.11.2017 Int. Russia Spain 3:3 D

SAUDI ARABIA NEWS

The only injured player who would’ve made Saudi Arabia’s final squad is Nawaf Al-Abed, he has had issues with a recurring foot injury and will be gutted to be missing out.

Latest matches: Saudi Arabia

08.06.2018 Int. Germany Saudi Arabia 2:1 L
03.06.2018 Int. Saudi Arabia Peru 0:3 L
28.05.2018 Int. Italy Saudi Arabia 2:1 L
15.05.2018 Int. Saudi Arabia Greece 2:0 W
09.05.2018 Int. Saudi Arabia Algeria 2:0 W

SUMMARY

Russia are massive favourites for this especially with a full stadium, and country, of fans behind them. They are not only superior in their squad but with years of anticipation for a World Cup in their own nation, the Russian players will be fired up to perform. Saudi Arabia do have a chance of pulling off a shock upset on the opening day but a special day for the hosts isn’t expected to be ruined.

About the author - Ed Mackey

Experienced sports writer and huge Leicester City fan.

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