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.
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.
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
Latest matches: Russia
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
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.
14 June 2018 - 15:00 GMT
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