Russia v Saudi Arabia Betting Preview, Odds & Tips | 14th June
Tom Love previews Russia v Saudi Arabia and provides us with his best bets for Thursday’s World Cup clash by analysing team news, potential line-ups, stats and facts and more.
Russia v Saudi Arabia Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 14/06/18
- Time: 16:00pm
- Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
- Channel: ITV
The 2018 World Cup kicks off in traditional style with the hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia. You’d be hard pressed to find a more underwhelming World Cup opener, and quality viewing is expected to be at a premium. Both these sides are currently the lowest ranked by FIFA out of the 32 competing in the Tournament; you’d expect that to be the case for the Saudi’s but it’s a damning indictment of how far Russia have dropped off in the last decade.
Many have argued that Russia are the worst side to have ever hosted this prestigious tournament, and they’ve got a strong case. Preparation has been far from ideal for Stanislav Cherchesov’s men, Zenit striker Aleksander Kokorin was in line to be the poster boy for the national team but he is ruled out of the competition after a nasty ACL injury. Defensively they also have gone through somewhat of a crisis; the Berezutski twins have now retired, Sergei Ignashevich is now 38 and not up to it, first choice centre halves Viktor Vasin and Georgi Dzhikiya are both ruled out with knee injuries.
Russia do have some decent players in midfield with Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin and Aleksandr Samedov but most of the burden for creativity will be on 22 year old CSKA playmaker Golovin which isn’t ideal for somebody so young. Fyodor Smolov will be charged with the goal-getting as the lone striker, a role he can carry out and has done so in the past for his club side Krasnodar. West Ham have been linked with the all-round striker and his scoring return at club level at least has been very good with 52 goals in 73 games domestically.
Saudi Arabia are the real unknown quantity in the tournament with the majority of their squad plying their trade in their little-known native league. They have a manager who will be familiar to most in Juan Antonio Pizzi, formerly of Chile. The players at his disposal in this team lacks the quality he has managed previously so it will be a difficult but interesting test of his coaching credentials. Pizzi will probably opt for a 4-5-1 formation and play on the counter attack with the pace of Fahad Al-Muwullad as the outlet.
Pizzi left out some more experienced players but can still call upon duo Taiser Al-Jassim and Osama Hawasi to bring organisation and leadership into this side. However, if Russia could pick any side at the tournament to play first then it probably would be the Green Falcons.
As mentioned, Russia will be without key centre backs Vasin and Dzhkiya.
Saudia Arabia will miss the creative presence of Nawaf Al-Abed due to injury.
Potential Russia Starting XI: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Granat, Ignashevich, Kudrayashov, Zobnin, Samedov, Golovin, Dzagoev, Zhirkov, Smolov.
Potential Saudi Arabia Starting XI: Al-Mayouf, Al-Buraik, Osama Hawasi, Omar Hawasi, Al-Shahrani, Otayf, Al-Faraj, Al-Shehri, Al-Mullawad, Al-Dawasari, Al-Sahlawi.
Head To Head
- These two have only met once, in a friendly prior to the 1994 World Cup. Saudi Arabia actually ran out victorious in an entertaining 4-2 match.
Key Stats & Facts
- Incredibly the opening games of the 1966, 1970, 1974 and 1978 World Cups all ended 0-0.
- World Cup openers have tended to be low scoring, with 8 of them seeing under 1.5 goals land since 1966.
- Russia – 4/9
- Draw – 37/10
- Saudi Arabia – 9/1
It could be attritional and not all that attractive to watch but all the pressure is on Russia to kick things off with a win. 4/9 makes little appeal in the outright market but I would expect them to get the job done here especially with home advantage, so I’m going to back the hosts to win in a game featuring 3 or fewer goals at a more attractive quote.
More ambitious punters may want to look at the Half Time/Full Time market, if this is as cagey as expected early on then Draw HT/Russia FT may provide some value.