The opener on June 14th features a clash between two of the lowest-ranked teams that have qualified for the tournament: hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, ranked 70 and 67 respectively according to the latest FIFA rankings.
Russia is host in World Cup that is about to come. As such they skipped qualifiers. One thing is certain; Russia would have serious trouble to qualify for final tournament. They are far from glory days although they are still able to surprise from time to time. After dissolution of Soviet Union, Russia played in only three final tournaments and they recorded mediocre two wins, two draws and five defeats. They also never passed group stage. In last four friendly matches they scored only three times and as result they lost three of those four games. First opponent have good results recently and if not for home ground Russia would hardly be considered favorite. Main goal for Russians will be not to lose opening game so we may expect somewhat defensive approach to the game.
Saudi Arabia Info
Saudi Arabia is one of four Asian countries that earned their ticket to World Cup 2018. They finished in second place in group B two points behind Japan. Australia also had nineteen points in the end but because of better goal difference Saudi Arabia went directly through. . Interesting fact is that most of their away matches they lost while on the home ground they play well. Before the beginning, Saudi Arabia played two more strong matches in Switzerland and opponents were Italy and Germany.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov: “We have not achieved anything with four at the back. Moreover, almost half of Russian Premier League teams are playing with three defenders. So we want to be flexible.”
Saudi Arabia Coach
Juan Antonio Pizzi, coach of Saudi Arabia, says: “Fortunately, the players here are very malleable and have adapted to what we want from them. They know what to expect in Russia and know what we expect of them, so we are ready to perform to our best abilities. We are looking forward to the World Cup without fear.”
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Stats
Stats are based on the last 10 games (including friendly matches)
Russia predicted line-up:
The image above shows how Russia may line up for the game in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Saudi Arabia predicted line-up:
Saudi Arabia may line up for the game in a 4-1-4-1 formation
Russia vs Saudi Arabia Predictions
Russia has endured five-match winless streak since beating South Korea in October 2017 and if want to pick up all three points then have to play aggressive from the first minute. All players know that and they will do their best to beat Saudi Arabia. Key for Russia will be to contain the pressure of having to win the match, while Saudi Arabia will try to score after fast counterattacks and long-balls. Russia’s defence is much slower and they will have problems to finish this game without conceding. Russia have conceded at least one goal in each of the last 10 matches.
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. These two teams will play strong and aggressive in midfield and we will see more then five yellows.
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.
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.
Russia 4 Saudi Arabio 0 ( 4 -0 )