After months of wearying expectations, World Cup in Russia finally starts on Thursday with an opening match in which the host country will play against the Saudi national team at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow.
Obviously, there is not much expected from Russia at the tournament, but in order to have a chance to reach the stage of the playoffs of the tournament, it is necessary to defeat the opponent, who participates in the main world’s football tournament for the first time since 2006.
It is noteworthy that among the teams participating in the World Championship, two sides who will play in the opening match have the lowest FIFA rating. Partly because of the lack of competitive matches, Russia have dropped to 70th place in the ranking, three places lower than Saudi Arabia.
In fairness it must be said that the current form of each team corresponds to their rank. Russia are without victories in seven last matches – this series lasts from October last year, while Saudi Arabia lost the last three friendly matches in a row: to Italy, Peru and Germany.
Historically, the host side have never lost the opening match. Russia have every chance to continue this tradition, as leading bookmakers share this view.
The latest World Cup 2018 odds from top bookmakers:
Potential Russia lineup: Akinfeev; Zhirkov, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Fernandes; Golovin, Anton Miranchuk, Zobnin, Samedov; Dzagoev, Smolov
Potential Saudi Arabia lineup: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Burayk, Al-Boleahi, Hawsawi, Al-Harbi, Al-Faraj, Ali-Khaibari, Kanno, Al-Jassim, Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi