The opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will see the host nation, Russia, and Saudi Arabia playing against each other at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow. As the World Cup hosts, Russia was granted automatic qualification for the final event although their performance over the last ten months or so had been everything but bright. The Sbornaya had lost six out of the previous ten matches over the last eleven months while winning just one in the process. In 2018, Stanislav Cherchesov’s team suffered three defeats out of four international friendlies they’ve played, only managing to pull off an uninspiring 1-1 draw with Turkey, and the fans are concerned about their national team’s chances at the final tournament. Saudi Arabia, who also failed to produce the desirable displays this year, have lost three consecutive matches in less than two months, including a frightening 3-0 loss to Peru. Although the Green Falcons qualified for the World Cup ahead of Australia, who eventually found their place among the 32 contestants over the inter-confederation play-off, they will have to put a lot more effort if looking to go past the group stage.
Fyodor Smolov and Artem Dzyuba are expected to spearhead Russia’s attack, while Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin should be the ones to feed them upfront. As for the visitors, Juan Antonio Pizzi doesn’t have a single European-based player at his disposal, which is one of the reasons Saudi Arabia is the lowest-ranked national team of the tournament.
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