Nearly four years of waiting has contributed to this. Precisely 1432 days after Mario Gotze’s extra time target watched Germany add a fourth celebrity to the jersey, Russia and Saudi Arabia take into the field to begin a second chapter in the storied history of the FIFA World Cup™.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia sides come in the fixture on a fairly undesirable run of recent form. Russia have failed to win in seven non-competitive attempts since beating Korea Republic in October, while that the Saudis have lost three friendly matches in a row – albeit to strong resistance in Italy, Peru and World Cup holders Germany.
Russia have brought 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich out of international retirement because of a number of defensive injuries and he is expected to start. Star man Aleksandr Kokorin misses this tournament with a knee injury so their most likely match-winner is striker Fedor Smolov.
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi faces a selection dilemma up front. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and Muhannad Assiri both rotated in the warm-up friendlies.
Both are also hoping for victory in the Luzhniki to end a barren run at the worldwide finals: Russia haven’t won at the World Cup since 2002, while Saudi Arabia’s last worldwide finals’ success came at USA 1994.
Team reporter investigation
Igor Borunov using Russia
regardless of the fact that public criticism has grown because of Russia’s recent form in friendly games, the hosts wish to show their worth in the opener against Saudi Arabia. They’ve spent a silent working week in their foundation in Novogorsk, far away from the hub of World Cup action in Moscow, and seem recharged and ready to deliver.
The Saudi team are trying to get a good result to show a positive picture of the nation’s footballing development to the world. Partly as a result of the occasion, they will likely be careful from the start. Following the opening ten minutes, Juan Antonio Pizzi will have a better idea of the Russians’ strengths and alter his plan accordingly.
No host team has lost in the Opening Match of this World Cup, that has produced six victories and three draws for the home side. Russia also have been at the Saudis’ shoes before, having contested a World Cup opener since the off side: they drew 0-0 with Mexico in 1970 as the Soviet Union.
Saudi Arabia: Abdullah Al-Mayouf; Omar Hosawi, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Usamah Husawi, Abdullah Otif, Taisir Al-Jassim, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Al-Barik; Yahya Al-Shihri, Salem Al Dosari; Fahad Al-Molad
- Saudi Arabia won 4-2 at home in the only previous encounter, a friendly in October 1993.
- Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia have never reached the knockout stage of the World Cup in three attempts (1994, 2002, 2014). They have finished third in their group in each of those three tournaments.
- France were the last World Cup hosts to win the trophy in 1998. South Africa, in 2010, are the only host nation to be knocked out in the group stage.
- Russia are winless in their last five games at the World Cup (D2, L3). Their only two victories at the World Cup as an independent nation were against African teams (6-1 versus Cameroon in 1994 and 2-0 against Tunisia in 2002).
- If he plays, Sergei Ignashevich will become the oldest player to represent Russia at a World Cup (38 years, 335 days), surpassing Lev Yashin’s record of 36 years and 279 days.
- This is Saudi Arabia’s fifth World Cup, but their first since 2006. They have finished bottom of their group in their last three appearances.
- Saudi Arabia are winless in their last 10 games at the World Cup, losing eight of them, since beating Belgium 1-0 in 1994.
- They have never won their opening match at the World Cup (D1, L3).
- Saudi Arabia have kept only one clean sheet in their 13 World Cup fixtures. They have also failed to score in seven of their last nine games in the tournament.
- The Saudis have lost eight of their nine World Cup matches against European nations, with their solitary victory coming courtesy of Saeed Al-Owairan’s brilliant solo goal against Belgium in 1994.
- Mohammed Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals in qualifying – the joint-most of any player, although eight of those came in two games against Timor-Leste.
What time is kick-off?
Russia vs Saudi Arabia kicks off at 4pm.
Where can I watch it?
The game will be broadcast live on ITV. Coverage begins with the opening ceremony at 2:30pm.
Saudi Arabia: 10/1
Russia 1-0 Saudi Arabia: The hosts will get the positive start they so desperately want, but it won’t be easy.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia betting tips: World Cup match preview & predictions
Russia team news vs Saudi Arabia
First-choice defenders Dmitri Kombarov and Viktor Vasin both miss the tournament through injury, meaning the Russians are likely to field a flat back four, rather than a central back three.
38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich – the second-oldest outfielder at the World Cup – is likely to start at the heart of Russia’s defence. Mario Fernandes and Igor Smolnikov will battle it out for the starting right-back berth.
Former Chelsea midfielder Yury Zhirkov is back in training and is expected to start out on the left. Alan Dzagoev provides an alternative attacking option for head coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
Saudi Arabia team news vs Russia
Saudi Arabia will be without star player Nawaf Al-Abed who misses out through injury. Al-Abed was Saudi’s top scorer in qualifying with 5 goals. Likely to play on the break, Salem Al-Dawsari and Fahad Al-Mullawad look to be Saudi Arabia’s pacy outlets.
Captain Osama Hawsawi and Taisir Al-Jassim provide experience in Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad. The pair have 267 international caps between them.
Russia predicted line-up vs Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia predicted line-up vs Saudi Arabia
World Cup 2018 live streaming: A lightning quick guide
The rights for the World Cup are split between free channels & those that require subscription. For this reason, we believe Russia 2018 will be known as the “VPN World Cup.”
- Unlock World Cup 2018 live streaming! Download a VPN from CyberGhost here.
- Once you have CyberGhost, select the “Unblock Streaming” option.
- With CyberGhost running, find your channel of choice and enjoy the game! No crashes, buffering or delays!
World Cup 2018 live streaming details
Watching World Cup 2018 live streaming looks like being key to the success of how to enjoy the next month. Every time a World Cup rolls around, once every four years, it feels like there have been serious technological advancements which will play a big impact.
We are in the midst of the mobile revolution – so this is going to be a World Cup of football fans on the go. There is simply no excuse not to tune into the World Cup in Russia this summer and our guide below should show you exactly how to watch any and every game.