FIFA World Cup 2018 Preview: Russia, Saudi Arabia look to end drought

FIFA World Cup 2018 will kick off with the hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in the tournament opener on Thursday.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: June 14, 2018 8:14:18 pm
FIFA World Cup 2018 Saudi Arabia players during a practice session in Russia. (Source: AP)

The FIFA World Cup 2018 is ready to kick off with the hosts Russia squaring off against Saudi Arabia in the opening match. For the hosts, it will be a chance to forego their recent records and start off the biggest tournament in the world on a winning run. The side led by coach Stanislav Cherchesov, has not won a single match in their previous seven games before the start of the tournament. Their last win was when they beat Korea Republic in October 2017. Russia have slipped down to the 70th position in FIFA Rankings, and are currently the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament.

But Cherchesov, who took over the coaching role in August 2016, can take relief from the fact that their opening fixture is against Saudi Arabia, who are only three ranks higher than them. Russia have not lost a match at World Cup finals since 2002, and they will be eager to kick off things on a positive note at Luzhiniki Stadium in Moscow in front of the home crowd.

READ | FIFA World Cup 2018 Live Updates

The problem with the hosts lies with their goalscoring abilities. In their four friendly fixtures in 2018, Russia have only scored twice. Fedor Smolov, who plays for Russia’s top division club Krasnodar, and has scored 52 goals in the last three seasons for the club, and will be the key player for the side in the opening match.

FT

Group A | 14 Jun

Luzhniki Stadium

Russia

5
  • 12’ Iury Gazinsky
  • 43’ Denis Cheryshev
  • 71’ Artem Dzyuba
  • 90’ Denis Cheryshev
  • 90’ Aleksandr Golovin
0

Saudi Arabia

  • Russia
  • Key Stats
  • Saudi Arabia
  • 5
  • Goals
  • 0
  • 13
  • TOTAL SHOTS
  • 6
  • 40
  • BALL POSSESSION
  • 60
  • 7
  • SHOTS ON TARGET
  • 0
  • 6
  • CORNERS
  • 2
  • 18
  • CROSSES
  • 9
  • 1061
  • TOUCHES
  • 1619
  • 389
  • PASSES
  • 591
  • 90'

    Game Over

    Russia 5 - 0 Saudi Arabia

  • 90'

    Goal

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 90'

    Shot on Goal

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 90'

    Free Kick

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 90'

    Yellow Card

    Taiseer Aljassam (Saudi Arabia)

  • 90'

    Foul

    Taiseer Aljassam fouled by Aleksandr Golovin (Saudi Arabia)

  • 90'

    Free Kick

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 90'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Yasir Alshahrani (Russia)

  • 90'

    Goal

    Denis Cheryshev. Assist by Artem Dzyuba (Russia)

  • 90'

    Shot on Goal

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 90'

    Free Kick

    Sergey Ignashevich (Russia)

  • 90'

    Foul

    Fahad Almuwallad fouled by Sergey Ignashevich (Saudi Arabia)

  • 90'

    Injury Time

    Injury Time

  • 90'

    Free Kick

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 90'

    Foul

    Denis Cheryshev fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 90'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 90'

    Corner Kick

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 89'

    Cross

    Roman Zobnin (Russia)

  • 89'

    Cross

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 88'

    Free Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 88'

    Yellow Card

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 88'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Omar Othman (Russia)

  • 88'

    Cross

    Hatan Bahbir (Saudi Arabia)

  • 87'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 87'

    Foul

    Daler Kuziaev fouled by Salem Aldawsari (Russia)

  • 87'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 87'

    Corner Kick

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 86'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 86'

    Free Kick

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 85'

    Foul

    Hatan Bahbir fouled by Yury Zhirkov (Saudi Arabia)

  • 85'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 84'

    Substitution

    Muhannad Asiri (on). Mohammad Alsahlawi (off). (Saudi Arabia)

  • 84'

    Shot

    Daler Kuziaev (Russia)

  • 83'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 82'

    Throw-In

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 82'

    Cross

    Fahad Almuwallad (Saudi Arabia)

  • 82'

    Shot

    Hatan Bahbir (Saudi Arabia)

  • 82'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 81'

    Throw-In

    Hatan Bahbir (Saudi Arabia)

  • 81'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 81'

    Foul

    Yury Zhirkov fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 80'

    Free Kick

    Ilya Kutepov (Russia)

  • 80'

    Foul

    Taiseer Aljassam fouled by Daler Kuziaev (Saudi Arabia)

  • 78'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 77'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 77'

    Shot

    Roman Zobnin (Russia)

  • 77'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 77'

    Free Kick

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 76'

    Foul

    Yasir Alshahrani fouled by Roman Zobnin (Saudi Arabia)

  • 76'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 75'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 75'

    Free Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 75'

    Foul

    Iury Gazinsky fouled by Taiseer Aljassam (Russia)

  • 74'

    Free Kick

    Taiseer Aljassam (Saudi Arabia)

  • 74'

    Foul

    Artem Dzyuba fouled by Omar Othman (Russia)

  • 74'

    Goal Kick

    Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

  • 73'

    Substitution

    Hatan Bahbir (on). Yahia Alshehri (off). (Saudi Arabia)

  • 73'

    Shot

    Salem Aldawsari (Saudi Arabia)

  • 71'

    Goal

    Artem Dzyuba. Assist by Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 71'

    Shot on Goal

    Artem Dzyuba (Russia)

  • 71'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 71'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 71'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 70'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 70'

    Substitution

    Artem Dzyuba (on). Fedor Smolov (off). (Russia)

  • 68'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 68'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 68'

    Shot on Goal

    Roman Zobnin (Russia)

  • 67'

    Free Kick

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 67'

    Foul

    Denis Cheryshev fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 67'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 66'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 66'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 65'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 65'

    Shot on Goal

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 65'

    Cross

    Fedor Smolov (Russia)

  • 64'

    Free Kick

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 64'

    Substitution

    Daler Kuziaev (on). Alexander Samedov (off). (Russia)

  • 64'

    Substitution

    Fahad Almuwallad (on). Abdullah Otayf (off). (Saudi Arabia)

  • 64'

    Foul

    Denis Cheryshev fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 62'

    Shot

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 62'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 61'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 61'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Otayf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 61'

    Foul

    Denis Cheryshev fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 60'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Otayf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 60'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Salman Alfaraj (Russia)

  • 59'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 59'

    Free Kick

    Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

  • 58'

    Offside

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 58'

    Cross

    Taiseer Aljassam (Saudi Arabia)

  • 58'

    Free Kick

    Taiseer Aljassam (Saudi Arabia)

  • 58'

    Foul

    Alexander Samedov fouled by Salem Aldawsari (Russia)

  • 57'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Otayf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 57'

    Foul

    Roman Zobnin fouled by Abdullah Otayf (Russia)

  • 57'

    Goal Kick

    Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

  • 56'

    Cross

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 55'

    Free Kick

    Iury Gazinsky (Russia)

  • 55'

    Foul

    Taiseer Aljassam fouled by Iury Gazinsky (Saudi Arabia)

  • 54'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 54'

    Cross

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 54'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 53'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 53'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 52'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 52'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 52'

    Shot

    Alexander Samedov (Russia)

  • 50'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 50'

    Corner Kick

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 49'

    Free Kick

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 49'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Abdullah Otayf (Russia)

  • 49'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 48'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 47'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 46'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Otayf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 46'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Osama Hawsawi (Russia)

  • 46'

    Start Half

    Start Half

  • 45'

    Half Over

    Russia 2 - 0 Saudi Arabia

  • 45'

    Free Kick

    Omar Othman (Saudi Arabia)

  • 45'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Abdullah Otayf (Russia)

  • 45'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 45'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 45'

    Injury Time

    Injury Time

  • 43'

    Goal

    Denis Cheryshev. Assist by Roman Zobnin (Russia)

  • 43'

    Shot on Goal

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 42'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 42'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 42'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 41'

    Free Kick

    Sergey Ignashevich (Russia)

  • 41'

    Foul

    Salman Alfaraj fouled by Roman Zobnin (Saudi Arabia)

  • 40'

    Free Kick

    Osama Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)

  • 40'

    Foul

    Aleksandr Golovin fouled by Abdullah Otayf (Russia)

  • 40'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 38'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 38'

    Cross

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 37'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 37'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 34'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 34'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 34'

    Foul

    Fedor Smolov fouled by Osama Hawsawi (Russia)

  • 34'

    Throw-In

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 33'

    Free Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 33'

    Foul

    Iury Gazinsky fouled by Salman Alfaraj (Russia)

  • 32'

    Goal Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 31'

    Goal Kick

    Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

  • 31'

    Shot

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 31'

    Cross

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 31'

    Free Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 30'

    Foul

    Yury Zhirkov fouled by Taiseer Aljassam (Russia)

  • 30'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 29'

    Offside

    Fedor Smolov (Russia)

  • 29'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 28'

    Goal Kick

    Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

  • 28'

    Shot

    Salem Aldawsari (Saudi Arabia)

  • 27'

    Free Kick

    Salem Aldawsari (Saudi Arabia)

  • 27'

    Foul

    Ilya Kutepov fouled by Salem Aldawsari (Russia)

  • 27'

    Cross

    Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

  • 26'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 26'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 24'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 24'

    Substitution

    Denis Cheryshev (on). Alan Dzagoev (off). (Russia)

  • 22'

    Cross

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 22'

    Corner Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 22'

    Shot

    Mohammad Alsahlawi (Saudi Arabia)

  • 21'

    Cross

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 21'

    Corner Kick

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 21'

    Cross

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 20'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 20'

    Free Kick

    Sergey Ignashevich (Russia)

  • 20'

    Foul

    Mohammad Alsahlawi fouled by Roman Zobnin (Saudi Arabia)

  • 19'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 18'

    Throw-In

    Salman Alfaraj (Saudi Arabia)

  • 18'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 17'

    Free Kick

    Sergey Ignashevich (Russia)

  • 17'

    Foul

    Mohammad Alsahlawi fouled by Sergey Ignashevich (Saudi Arabia)

  • 17'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 15'

    Offside

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 15'

    Throw-In

    Fedor Smolov (Russia)

  • 14'

    Free Kick

    Osama Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)

  • 14'

    Offside

    Fedor Smolov (Russia)

  • 14'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 13'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 12'

    Goal

    Iury Gazinsky. Assist by Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 12'

    Shot on Goal

    Iury Gazinsky (Russia)

  • 12'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 12'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 12'

    Corner Kick

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 11'

    Shot

    Alan Dzagoev (Russia)

  • 11'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 10'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 10'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 10'

    Corner Kick

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 9'

    Shot

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 9'

    Cross

    Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

  • 8'

    Throw-In

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 8'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 8'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 7'

    Shot

    Alexander Samedov (Russia)

  • 7'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 7'

    Throw-In

    Taiseer Aljassam (Saudi Arabia)

  • 6'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 6'

    Shot

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 5'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 5'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 4'

    Throw-In

    Mohamed Alburayk (Saudi Arabia)

  • 4'

    Free Kick

    Abdullah Almuaiouf (Saudi Arabia)

  • 4'

    Foul

    Fedor Smolov fouled by Mohamed Alburayk (Russia)

  • 3'

    Cross

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 3'

    Corner Kick

    Yury Zhirkov (Russia)

  • 2'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 2'

    Throw-In

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 2'

    Free Kick

    Mario Fernandes (Russia)

  • 1'

    Foul

    Omar Othman fouled by Alexander Samedov (Saudi Arabia)

  • 1'

    Throw-In

    Yasir Alshahrani (Saudi Arabia)

  • 1'

    Start Half

    Start Half

Russia

  • 1 Igor Akinfeev
  • 2 Mario Fernandes
  • 3 Ilya Kutepov
  • 4 Sergey Ignashevich
  • 18 Yuri Zhirkov
  • 8 Lury Gazinskiy
  • 11 Roman Zobnin
  • 19 Aleksandr Samedov
  • 9 Alan Dzagoev
  • 17 Aleksandr Golovin
  • 10 Fedor Smolov

Substitutes

  • 6 Denis Cheryshev
  • 7 Daler Kuzyayev
  • 22 Artem Dzyuba
  • 12 Andrei Lunev
  • 5 Andrey Semenov
  • 16 Anton Miranchuk
  • 13 Fedor Kudryashov
  • 20 Vladimir Gabulov
  • 21 Aleksandr Yerokhin
  • 15 Aleksei Miranchuk
  • 23 Igor Smolnikov
  • 14 Vladimir Granat

Head Coach

  • Stanislav Cherchesov

Saudi Arabia

  • 1 Abdullah Al-Mayouf
  • 6 Mohammed Al-Burayk
  • 3 Osama Hawsawi
  • 5 Omar Othman
  • 13 Yasir Al-Shahrani
  • 18 Salem Al-Dawsari
  • 14 Abdullah Otayf
  • 7 Salman Al-Faraj
  • 17 Taiseer Al Jassam
  • 8 Yahia Al-Shehri
  • 10 Mohammad Al-Sahlawi

Substitutes

  • 9 Hattan Bahbir
  • 19 Fahad Al-Muwallad
  • 20 Muhannad Assiri
  • 21 Yasser Al-Mosailem
  • 4 Ali Al Bulayhi
  • 22 Mohammed Al-Owais
  • 12 Mohamed Kanno
  • 2 Mansour Al-Harbi
  • 23 Motaz Hawsawi
  • 16 Hussain Al Moqahwi
  • 11 AbdulMalek Al Khaibri
  • 15 Abdullah Al-Khaibari

Head Coach

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi

For Saudi Arabia, who have not won a single World Cup finals match since beating the USA in 1994, the biggest concern lies with their coaching staff in the leadup to Russia. The Green Falcons, who are returning to the big stage for the first time since 2006, have won only three out of nine friendly fixtures under boss Juan Antonio Pizzo who took over the role after the sacking of Edgardo Bauza just after two months in charge. The side have struggled since Dutchman Bert van Marwijk stepped aside from the coaching role in September 2017.

Saudi Arabia will look to bank upon the experienced squad, which is led by the 35-year old defender Osama Hawsawi’s, who has played 135 international matches for the country. But as per the statistics, no home team has ever lost in the Opening match of the tournament. But Saudi Arabia will hope they can repeat the performance from the last time the two teams met back in October 1993, when they defeated Russia by 4-2 in a friendly match.

For all the latest Fifa News, download Indian Express App

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement