Russia vs Saudi Arabia preview: Host eyeing victory in World Cup opening game

It’s finally here. After a long wait, the highly-anticipated 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday with a clash between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

This might not be the most electrifying opener, but it is the beginning of what should be a thrilling tournament. Fans will pack the Luzhniki Stadium to get a glimpse of how the host nation will fare.

Unfortunately, Sbornaya heads into this clash on the back of a poor run. They have suffered defeats to the likes of Argentina, France, and Brazil, which are top sides, in all respect. However, defeat to Austria and a failure to beat Turkey did little to boost their confidence.

On the other hand, Russia will lock horns with a side that has not won a single World Cup match in 14 years. Saudi Arabia’s debut campaign in 1994 was the last time they earned a win in a campaign that saw them reach the round of 16, but since then, they have only suffered embarrassment.

Their subsequent nine games since ’94 have produced seven defeats and no wins. This includes an 8-0 loss to Germany in 2002.

The Green Falcons have endured a managerial merry-go-round stole a solid foundation from the Middle Eastern nation. A change in tacticians happened three times in the space of three months to see Juan Antonio Pizzi take over the national side. 

Team news

Once the opening ceremony is done and dusted, Russia and Saudi Arabian players will take to the field. Before that, squad selection must be made by both managers.

Denis Glushakov’s omission from the host’s final squad is a notable absence from the lowest-ranked nation in the 2018 World Cup. Aleksandr Golovin, however, will be present and will be a player to watch after establishing himself as a CSKA Moscow star.

Osama Hawsawi is a veteran for the Arab nation and will be tasked with leading the defense. The likes of Taisir Al-Jassim and Mohammad Al-Sahlawi could prove pivotal for Saudi Arabia.

Match facts

  • Russia is without a single win in their last six games, drawing two and losing the rest.
  • Saudi Arabia has lost four of their last six games (W2).
  • These two sides have met only once before, with the Green Falcons emerging triumphant via a 4-2 scoreline.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia TV and Streaming Schedule

Kick-off time: Thursday 14 June 11:00am ET / 4:00pm BST / 5:00pm CET
Stadium: Olimpiyskiy stadion Luzhniki (Moskva)
Australia: SBS Arabic 24, SBS Radio 2, SBS Live, SBS Radio 1, SBS, Optus Sport
Canada: CTV GO, TSN4, TSN Radio 1040 - 1410, TSN GO, TSN5, RDS GO, RDS, CTV
France: beIN SPORTS CONNECT, TF1, TF1 Live, beIN Sports 2, beIN Sports 1
Germany: ARD Das Erste, SRF zwei, ORF eins, ORF TV Live, WDR Event, Sky Sport UHD Germany, Sky Go Deutschland, Sportschau Live
Indonesia: Trans TV, UseeTV
Malaysia: Astro FIFA World Cup 1 HD, RTM TV2 , Astro Go
Netherlands: Één, NPO 1
Nigeria: Kwesé Live, StarTimes App, Kwesé FIFA World Cup, SLGO, Kwesé Free Sports, Canal+ Sport 1 Afrique, SuperSport Live, SS13, SuperSport 14, SuperSport 3 Nigeria, SuperSport 10, SuperSport 3 Africa
Portugal: Antena 1 - RTP, Sport TV1, RTP 1, RTP Play, Sport TV LIVE
Russia: Channel One Russia,, Channel One Russia Live
Saudi Arabia: beIN MAX 1, beIN MAX 2, beIN SPORTS CONNECT
Spain: Mediaset Sport App, TeleCinco Espana
Turkey: TRT 4K, TRT Spor Web TV, Idman TV, TRT 1
United Kingdom: UTV, ITV 1 UK, The ITV Hub, STV Scotland
United States: FOX Sports GO, Telemundo, Futbol de Primera Radio, fuboTV, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, Sling World Cup, FOX Network

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