Russia vs. Saudi Arabia World Cup Pick - Odds and Match Predictions
And here it is. The World Cup is finally upon us, and Russia will kick off the competition with the premiere against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, at the Luzhniki Arena. Russia did not have to go through the qualifying phase as hosts, but their warm-up friendlies have been disappointing. Saudi Arabia knows that they will not have a lot of chances to make an impact in the group, but they will come here looking to gain some valuable experience.
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Russia crashed and burned in the 2016 EURO Cup, where they failed to win any of their three matches against Slovakia, Wales and England (0-2-1). They eventually finished at the bottom of their group, scoring just two goals in the process. Since then they have played a ton of friendlies but without much success (4-7-6). Moreover, they failed to be competitive when they hosted the Confederations Cup last year, where they only defeated New Zealand in their Group (1-2-0). In their previous friendly, they were not very good against Turkey, where they were stuck at a 1-1 draw. Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has yet to decide on his starting eleven, and he is not the best of coaches either, with the worst win ratio as a Russian head-coach (26.31%).
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia just barely finished at the 2nd spot of their qualifying group in order to book their ticket to the World Cup. They defeated the "indifferent" Japan in the final match-day, and despite having just as many points as Australia, they finished 2nd due to bigger goal difference (6-3-1). However, they have had a lot of problems on their bench, as they couldn't find a suitable coach. They now have the former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi at the helm, who is the third coach in the space of 10 months. He had very little time to get to know the squad, let alone find the suitable formations. They haven't had much luck in their friendlies since the qualifiers (5-8-1), having defeated Greece, Algeria, Moldova, Latvia, and Jamaica. In their most recent match, they were quite solid against Germany, despite the 1-2 loss. They were competitive in that match, and one of the goals they conceded was an own goal.
Get more details: Russia Vs Saudi Arabia 2018 World Cup Match-Up
Russian World Cup Roster
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Brugge), Andrei Lunyov (Zenit St. Petersburg). Defenders: Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Rubin Kazan), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Fyodor Kudryashov (Rubin Kazan), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Andrei Semyonov (Akhmat Grozny), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St. Petersburg). Midfielders: Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Gazinsky (FC Krasnodar), Alexander Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Daler Kuzyaev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Anton Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Yerokhin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Roman Zobnin (Spartak Moscow). Forwards: Artyom Dzyuba (Arsenal Tula), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (FC Krasnodar).
Saudi Arabia World Cup Roster
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al Owais (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Al Mayouf (Al Hilal) Defenders: Mansoor Al Harbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Shahrani (Al Hilal) Mohammed Al Breik (Al Hilal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al Nassr), Ali Al Bulaihi (Al Hilal) Midfielders: Abdullah Al Khaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Al Khaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Al Jassim (Al Ahli), Houssain Al Mogahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno (both Al Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem Al Dawsari (Al Hilal), Yahya Al Shehri (Al Nassr), Fahad Al Muwallad (Al Ittihad) Forwards: Mohammad Al Sahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Assiri (Al Ahli)
Russia vs. Saudi Arabia Prediction 06/14/2018
This is not exactly the flashiest of premieres in a World Cup, with neither team being in excellent shape. This should not be an exciting match other than the fact that it will be the opener. The bookmakers have Russia as the huge favorites here (-227), but the reality is that it will not be an easy match. Of course, the hosts traditionally get boosted by the referees, and Russia might end up winning here. But Saudi Arabia knows that this is their easiest match in the group, and they will give it their all. I will take a bold step here and go with Both Teams to Score.
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