2018 FIFA World Cup – Russia vs Saudi Arabia Preview


When? Thursday 14th June, 16:00

Where? Stadion Luzhniki

What channel is it on? ITV1

Where can I stream the match? The match can be streamed online via ITV Player

Are tickets still available? https://www.ticketbisevents.com/en/group-a-russia-saudi-arabia-egypt-uruguay-tickets/ca5910



  • Big pressure on the hosts coming into the World Cup and while the spotlight has been more on the organisation of the event, there is a fair degree of pressure on the team who do not come into the tournament in great form.
  • They have had some tough friendlies over the last couple of years but performances have been far from convincing and one of the biggest issues has been an ageing defence, and a lack of goals going forward.
  • Home advantage should give them a slight edge but unless they score early, nerves and tension could quickly creep into their play and become a factor.

Predicted line-up (3-4-2-1):


Smolnikov, Ignashevich, Kutepov

Samedov, Gazinskiy, Zobnin, Zhirkov

Golovin, Dzagoev


Unavailable: None

Doubtful: None


  • Saudi Arabia come into the tournament with low expectations and their preparations have been troubled having gone through a couple of coaches in qualifying before ultimately appointing Argentine Juan Antonio Pizzi to lead them here.
  • The biggest issue for the team is the lack of experience throughout the squad with only a handful having played outside the country, and those that have like the trio that play in Spain, have been unable to earn much playing time at all.
  • They have been able to prepare well for the tournament having all been together for the entire month of May and playing five friendlies which may help their cohesion and organisation but they lack quality overall.

Predicted line-up (4-2-3-1):

Al Mosailem

Al Burayk, Omar Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Al Shahrani

Al Faraj, Otayf

Al Shehri, Al Jassim, Al Dawsari

Al Sahlawi


Doubtful: Kanno


Russia are actually ranked below the Saudis in the FIFA rankings but that is somewhat misleading. That said, this is a fairly poor Russian team and this opening match is something of a gift to the hosts. They should have too much quality for the Saudis over the 90 minutes, but it will not be easy. Expect the Saudis to be hard-working and well-drilled, and while they are unlikely to pose much of an attacking threat, they will be hard to break down for a Russian team that is short on attacking quality and flair. Eventually their edge in quality should tell, but do not expect many goals in this one as the hosts should edge it, while keeping a clean sheet.


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