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Russia vs Saudi Arabia World Cup 2018 predictions, betting tips and preview: Exciting opening match expected

  • Hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia in the opening match of the 2018 World Cup
  • We are predicting an exciting curtain-raiser to the tournament
  • Register with Betstars here & bet £20, you'll then get £20 free bet
Artem Dzyuba (top) in action for Russia against Sweden (credit: Getty Images)

Match No 1 of the 64 that comprise the 2018 World Cup is Russia vs Saudi Arabia as the host nation begin their Group A campaign straight after the opening ceremony on Thursday June 14.

These countries have been pooled with Uruguay and Egypt, who will also strive to be among the two qualifiers from this group that go forward to the round-of-16.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia prediction


Russia vs Saudi Arabia head-to-head stats

  • October 6 1993, friendly match, Riyadh
  • Saudi Arabia 4-2 Russia
Russia already secured their place at the 1994 World Cup before this friendly and they would subsequently be joined by Saudi Arabia, whose final phase of the Asian qualification process took place later the same month.

Aleksandr Mostovoi scored both of Russia’s goals but they were not enough as Khaled Messed bagged a double for Saudi Arabia, while Hamza Idriss Falatah and Fahad Al Mehallel also found the net in the last 25 minutes.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia background


Although Russia are red-hot favourites to start with a win, there will be huge pressure on their team and they have not been a significant force on the international stage since they finished third at the 2008 European Championship.

When the draw was made, the hosts’ coach Stanislav Cherchesov acknowledged his team face progressively harder tests as the group evolves, with Egypt followed by Uruguay, and therefore it will be important for them to make a winning start.

Cherchesov said after the draw in December:
“I won’t lie, I have never seen Saudi Arabia play before. I just know that Juan Antonio Pizzi took charge of the team recently. In a couple of weeks I will probably know some more details.”

Russia vs Saudi Arabia predicted line-ups

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi of Saudi Arabia celebrates after scoring a goal (Getty Images)
During this tournament, Russia will be hoping midfielder Alan Dzagoev can steer clear of the injuries that have plagued his career and start to fulfil the major potential he showed at the outset of Euro 2012.

Midfield is a key area for the hosts with Aleksandr Golovin a huge young talent, while up front much will be expected of Artem Dzyuba and Fyodor Smolov in the absence of injured Aleksandr Kokorin. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev is the captain.

For Saudi Arabia, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi has a fantastic goalscoring record and he will carry his country’s dreams on his shoulders along with the likes of defender Omar Hawsawi, and midfielders Yahya Al-Shehri and Taisir Al-Jassim.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia odds


  2/5 Russia (BetStars)
16/5 Draw (BetVictor)
10/1 Saudi Arabia (BetStars)

Russia vs Saudi Arabia betting tips


Those who think Russia are potentially being over-rated because of their status as World Cup hosts have a chance to snap up some big value if they think Saudi Arabia can cause an upset and get a positive result.

To cover the options of a Saudi Arabia win and also the draw, you can get 15/8 with BetVictor in the Double Chance market although it is worth bearing in mind that no host nation has ever lost its opening match of a World Cup.

Russia go into the tournament in poor form, however. They have lost six, drawn three and won only one of their last 10 matches, while Saudi Arabia need to hope they are not overcooked having played five warm-up games in the space of a month.

What we can see occurring is a few goals, potentally at least one for each team. Neither has a rock-solid defence and this could be similarly entertaining to the World Cup opener four years ago when Brazil came from behind to win 3-1 against Croatia.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia recommended bets


Over 2.5 goals @ 5/4 with BetStars
Both teams to score @ 6/4 with BetBright


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Russia vs Saudi Arabia World Cup 2018 predictions, betting tips and preview: Exciting opening match expected

Match No 1 of the 64 that comprise the 2018 World Cup is Russia vs Saudi Arabia as the host nation begin their Group A campaign straight after the opening ceremony on Thursday June 14.

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