Russia v Saudi Arabia – 14.06.2018 – Betting Tip
Stadion Luzhniki will have the honour of playing host to the World Cup curtain raiser as Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the first round on Thursday evening. It may not be a fixture to set the pulses racing, but all eyes will no doubts be looking towards Spartak Moscow’s venue as football fans waited four long years for the kick off to the biggest stage tournament the sport can offer.
The opening affair should really provide an opportunity for the host nation to get on a roll and make a victorious start given they are to play one of the weakest sides to have qualified for the major. Sbornaya are hardly expected to make a serious impact in spite of being the host nation because of many reasons which are to be discussed in this preview.
First of all, Russia did not win a competitive contest ever since beating New Zealand at last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup opener (this is only if you consider this competition competitive). Being the event’s hosts, they automatically qualified for the tournament and as such they’ve only played friendlies over the last couple of years.
These tests did not bring too much joy for Stanislav Cherchesov and his side in general as Russians proved to be prone to the lack of meticulousness at the back against stronger outfits, having shipped three to Spain, Brazil and France each since November last year. The defensive line should have an easier task than that in the first game given Saudi Arabia are anything but an attackingly-dangerous side.
Nevertheless, Cherchesov can hardly be optimistic about his team’s attacking efforts as well and we would not be shocked to see the Russians struggling to break the deadlock past what should be Saudi Arabia’s park-the-bus defense. The hosts head into this winless in last seven internationals, including a disappointing 1-1 draw in the final warm-up against Turkey nine days ago.
The Green Falcons arrive as one of the weakest sides in the tournament on paper. It does not necessarily mean they are in Russia just to make up the numbers as the nation has already proved the capacity of making upsets at the biggest stage in the past. In their maiden World Cup appearance in 1994, Saudi Arabia managed to shock the world by beating Belgium and Morocco to pass the group and book the R16 tie with Sweden, which they eventually went on to lose 3-1.
They showed quality by securing the top-two finish in their respective group in the fibal round of Asian WC qualifiers, ending the campaign above the likes of Australia who had to look for their tickets for Russia through the play-offs with Syria. You won’t find high-profile players in their ranks, but we have to mention Mohammad Al Sahlawi who bagged an impressive 16-goal tally in 14 appearances to guide his country en route to Russia.
Saudi Arabia are generally prone to managerial changes as Juan Antonio Pizzi is their sixth manager in last five years. The Spanish expert came on the bench in November 2017 after failing to take Chile through the South American WC Qualifications. Pizzi has reasons to be worried ahead of the tournament opener knowing that his men fell badly to Peru in the final test before the event kick off losing 0-3 ten days ago.
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Head to Head and Stats
This will only be the second head to head encounter between the two rivals. Nevertheless, it is definitely going to bear a much more significance than the one from a friendly back in October 1993 ahead of Saudi Arabia’s first ever appearance at the World Cup.
Interestingly, the Green Falcons came on top netting as many as four goals in what ended up as a six-goal thriller.
Out Tips and Predictions
This will definitely not be a match to produce six goals. We’d actually be surprised to see any based on everything written above. The hosts will no doubts feel the pressure being in a must-win situation in the opening fixture which could affect their limited attacking options to produce up front. Betting sites in Kenya pay the home win at 4/11 (1.36) and we find no value there whatsoever.
Pizzi is well aware of his side’s attacking limits the Asian outfit will certainly sit at the back and wait for the potential opportunities from counter-attacks. It’s really hard to imagine goals galore in such circumstances which is why we see the Under 2.5 goals FT as by far the best of betting tips you can back for the tournament opener. You can have the bet at 4/6 (1.66). Braver tipsters who’re in for a big longshot on the opening day can try with the hosts to win 1-0 at 15/4 (4.75).