World Cup Match 1: Russia v Saudi Arabia

The 2018 Soccer World Cup gets underway with the host nation Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The venue for the opening clash will also be where the final of the FIFA World Cup will take place on July 15.


What’s their current form?
Russia has played 8 games in the 2017-18 season, scoring a solitary win against South Korea 4-2 last October. They’ve had 3 draws; 1 all with Iran, 3 all with Spain and earlier this month they drew 1 all with Turkey. Their 4 losses were against Argentina 1-0, Brazil 3-0, France 3-1 and Austria 1-0. Given their lowly world ranking, they have been performing considerably well against many far superior sides.

Saudi Arabia has been far more active, playing 19 games in the last season. Scoring 8 wins, 2 draws and 9 losses. In 2018 they’ve played 8 games, beating Moldova 3-0 before losing 4-1 to Iraq, drawing 1 all with Ukraine and losing 4-0 to Belgium before scoring back-to-back 2-0 victories over Algeria and Greece. They then lost 2-1 to Italy and 3-0 to Peru. They have a game against Germany on June 8.

Russia: Akinfeev; Kutepov, Kudryashov, Samedov, Zhirkov; Golovin, Kuyaev, Zobnin; Miranchuk, Smolov.
Saudi Arabia: Mosailem; Breik, Omar Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Shahrani; Otayf, Jassim, Muwallad Shehri; Dawsari, Sahlawi.

Any interesting facts I should know?
In the 20 World Cups that have been played so far, the host nation has yet to lose their opening game. The hosts have had 15 wins and 5 draws in their first game.

What should I be betting on?
Home ground advantage will be more immense than ever for Russia here. They are up against a decent enough side, but one they are capable of beating. Russia will be expected to win here, but don’t rule out a draw either, as they have a knack for drifting in and out of games of late.

Wolf’s Prediction

With the host nation gaining automatic qualification, Russia have been stuck playing friendlies for the better part of 3 years. They earned just a single point at Euro 2016 and lost 2 of their 3 matches at the Confederations Cup. They have made it beyond the group stage at a major tournament just once and will be hoping that home ground advantage can count for something. They will also be hoping that the Saudi’s struggles at the World Cup can continue. They have lost 5 of their last 6 matches dating back to 2002, failed to score in each of those 5 losses and have lost their last 6 encounters with European nation’s at the World Cup. The hosts will win and maintain a clean sheet in the process.

Recommended Bets

Best: Russia WIN ($1.40)
Value: Russia WIN & Under 2.5 goals ($2.60)
Other: HT/FT – Draw/Russia ($3.90)


TV channel, kick-off time, betting odds, tips, live stream and team news

What time is kick off? The game starts at 6pm (local time) on June 14. In Australia, kick-off will be at 1am on June 15th.

What TV Channel is it on and can I live stream it? In Australia, the only network with live broadcast rights is SBS. SBS Radio will also cover games that aren’t broadcast. Optus Sport in Australia will broadcast every game live as well via live streaming, however it will be available to subscribers only.

What’s the team news and who’s injured? Saudi Arabia are set to be fully fit with no injury concerns across their entire squad, however Russia is set to be without star forward Aleksandr Kokorin, and defenders Georgi Dzhikiya and Viktor Vasin all set to miss the World Cup with knee injuries.

Who’s the referee? All referees will be announced 3 days prior to the game taking place

What happened the last time they played each other? There has only been 1 clash between these two sides. It was a friendly in 1993 which Saudi Arabia won 4-2.