Russian Federation get party started by crushing Saudi Arabia in opener

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia (67) and Russian Federation (70) will be hoping to pick the important three points in a tough group that also contains Egypt and Uruguay.

The Saudi team we saw today was not the one we saw in World Cup Qualifiers.

The Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper, echoed the thoughts of probably most Russian fans with dour headlines, such as "Destined to Defeat" and "Why Russia Is Doomed to Fail". Expect this to be a cagey match with both teams preferring to play on the counter. The Russian Football Union later confirmed it was a hamstring injury and it seems doubtful that the CSKA Moscow man will be able to recover in time to continue his World Cup. Saudi Arabia is a +750 underdog, while the line set for a draw is +315. Under new coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, they have won three of their last nine matches, and the team is a work under progress. However, the experienced striker is expected to start the opener.

His second was an exquisite half-volley from the edge of the area with the outside of his left foot, as he latched onto a knockdown by fellow goalscorer Artem Dzyuba. They were the only nation, along with England, whose players all play for their respective domestic league - until May, when Al-Muwallad featured for Levante in May at the end of the La Liga season. As the host nations, they will look to give their fans something to be proud of.

That the two participating soccer teams harbor no hope of raising the 11-pound, gold-plated trophy at this very same venue four-plus weeks forward did not matter a lick to the 78,011 stuffed inside Luzhniki Stadium, the 25,000 partying in the adjacent riverside fanfest and hundreds of millions watching in time zones near and far. The hosts are not the favourites in Group A by any means, but Cherchesov does have a few skilful players who can outsmart any opposition on their days.

"We have been studying our opponents from day one".

"We are not getting ahead of ourselves". Russian Federation have played miserably in the lead-up to the World Cup, but were excellent in the first half today, bright in attack and strong in winning the ball back.

"I think that a poor performance explains the result. They are united and strong, especially in defence".

The FIFA World Cup 2018 Russian Federation v/s Saudi Arabia match begins at 8:30 pm (IST). Substitute Denis Cheryshev-who replaced the injured Alan Dzagoev after just 23 minutes-then doubled their lead shortly before half-time.

The Green Falcons don't have any World Cup experience, but does boast some veterans including 34-year-old defender Osama Hawsawi, who has registered 135 caps and will be a key figure in slowing down Smolov.

Akinfeev (gk), Zhirkov, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Fernandes; Golovin, Anton Miranchuk, Zobnin, Samedov; Dzagoev, Smolov. As the minutes ticked by and the hosts settled into a comfortable rhythm, it became progressively hard for Juan Antonio Pizzi's Saudi Arabia to assert themselves in spite of their superlative ball possession.

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