Today’s Predictions : Russia Vs Saudi Arabia
Russia 5 – 0 Saudi Arabia
The FIFA World Cup 2018 is finally round the corner, and it begins with a potentially explosive clash between the host nation Russia and Saudi Arabia.
- Date : 14th June 2018
- Time : 8:30 PM (IST)
- Venue : Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
In the first round of our FIFA World Cup predictions, we have Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in Group A. This group also includes Egypt and Uruguay, making it one of the toughest groups to predict in the tournament, and hence a win in the first match is extremely important for both these sides.
FIFA World Cup Qualification
Russia did not have to partake in the qualification process as being the host nation earned them automatic qualification to this gala event.
Saudi Arabia topped their group and dominated their way to World Cup qualification. They scored 28 goals in just 8 matches, with their forward Mohammad Al Sahlawi emerging as the top scorer in the AFC Qualification process with 14 goals.
Stanislav Cherchesov’s men haven’t been in the best of forms going into this tournament. They haven’t managed a single win in their last 6 matches, and have lost their last 3 matches in a row. A 3-3 draw with the mighty Spain in November is their only credible result during that period. Back to back heavy defeats against pre-tournament favourites France and Brazil respectively, have caused fans to be very worried about the home team’s chances at the World Cup.
This is Saudi Arabia’s first World Cup Finals’ appearance since 2006, and their team does not look to be in particularly great form either. However, their recent form has still been better than their opponents as the Green Falcons have won 2 matches in their last 6 games. They managed back-to-back impressive victories at home against Greece and Algeria, while also earning a credible draw against Ukraine.
Head To Head Record
These two nations do not have a significant history in football and have faced off just once before, when Saudi Arabia emerged as 4-2 winners in a friendly back in 1993.
Russia would be without one of their marquee players as Alexander Kokorin’s persistent knee injuries have ruled him out of the tournament. Without Kokorin, the goalscoring burden will have to be shared by Fyodor Smolov and Artyom Dzyuba. Cherchesov has decided to gamble on many young players for this tournament, including 22 year old twins Anton and Alexei Miranchuk.
Saudi Arabia’s Maverick winger Nawaf Al Abed is the only notable absentee from the Green Falcon’s squad as he lost the race against time to be fit for the World Cup.
Players To Watch Out For
Russia are relying on several youngsters to carry them forward in this tournament, however they still have their stalwarts around to inspire them. Veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is still their captain, while 34 year old former Chelsea wingback Yuri Zhirkov is another vital cog in their lineup. Alan Dzagoev is the nation’s biggest hope in this tournament while Smolov and Dzyuba would be looking to be amongst the goals.
Saudi Arabia’s main striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi laid down the marker with 14 goals in the qualification rounds, and would be looking to prove himself at the biggest stage of the all. Young and speedy winger Salem Al-Dawsari grabbed everyone’s attention when he brilliantly assisted 2 goals to help Villareal come back from 2-0 down to draw the game against the mighty Real Madrid, in the Spanish La Liga last season.
Russia Vs Saudi Arabia Key Statistics
- Though Saudi Arabia are actually above Russia in the latest FIFA rankings, the home team is the heavy favourite going into this match.
- Saudi Arabia have never won a World Cup match since 1994, which was only their second ever victory in this tournament.
- Russia haven’t won a competitive match since their victory over New Zealand at the 2017 Confederations Cup on home soil.
- Saudi Arabia are probably the weakest team on paper in this tournament, and have historically been amongst the lowest scorers in major international tournaments, especially at the 2002 FIFA World Cup where the team failed to score a single goal.
- Considering the goal scoring struggles of both these teams, online betting on the under 2.5 goals market seems like a good option, and we would highly recommend this market for this particular fixture.
- Both teams have to face comparatively tougher teams in their group after this fixture, and though a draw seems quite likely, a win would be a priceless result for either of these teams.
- Despite a strong qualification campaign, Saudi Arabia suffered a major blow when they could not agree a contract extension with their coach Bert Van Marwijk, who left to eventually coach Australia. This will probably affect any slight chances the team had of earning a few points at this tournament, and is another key reason why the odds are heavily stacked in Russia’s favour in this opening fixture.
- Another good value bet would be on Mohammad Al-Sahlawi to score the opening goal of the tournament. The prolific striker might have a trick or two up his sleeve.
- The favourite on the goalscorer market is undoubtedly Russia’s first choice striker Fyodor Smolov.
While Saudi Arabia and Russia have a very global similar ranking, as per FIFA, we firmly expect the home team to kick start this tournament with a win, and make full use of their raucous home support and favourable conditions.
Our Predicted Scoreline : Russia 2 – 0 Saudi Arabia