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Monday, 11 June 2018

World Cup: Russia vs Saudi Arabia

As far as opening games of the FIFA World Cup goes, Russia against Saudi Arabia might be low-key. However, if you were to look over the history of the tournament, the games which we often expect to be dull are sometimes the best!

With Russia bringing arguably the worst national side in their history against what some consider to be the best Saudi Arabia has ever had, this game should be quite interesting. Consider that Russia have among the oldest defences in the tournament while the Saudi Arabians are equipped with rapid pace on the break; what does this mean for the hosts?


Russia News
For Russia, the entire tournament feels like it belongs to the Miranchuk brothers and Fedor Smolov. The Krasnodar forward has been one of the best players in the domestic scene for some time, and could be looking to use the World Cup to get a bit move

The Russians need him to fire, though, as they have little to no creativity outside of him and the defence is a mess. With 12 in 32 for his nation, Smolov is the now-or-never star that could help Russia achieve some semblance of success from the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia News
For Saudi Arabia, the main player they have to look for is Al-Nasser forward Mohammad Al-Sahlawi. He scored a whopping 16 goals in qualifying, and comes into this tournament with some very good form.
However, the main issue with Al-Sahlawi is his big game drop-offs. He scored seven goals in two games against East Timor, but only one in the ‘big’ games in a loss to Australia. Hes not scored in friendlies against decent opposition including Peru, Greece, Belgium and Germany; if he cant fire, the lack of other forward options will tell.




Verdict
It’s hard to call, but we think Russia will get the win here. While we might suggest the Saudi’s are a better side, they lack big game experience. Russia, while losing, has played a host of top sides recently and could benefit from that. We’re calling a Russia win, but not by much at all. If they fail to beat Saudi Arabia, expect them to lose all three games.


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