World Cup Preview – Group A | Russia v Saudi Arabia

The opening game of the World Cup finals sees hosts Russia play host to Saudi Arabia.

The newly built Luzhniki Stadium with over 80,000 fans will see the opening game, and Russia will be looking to open with victory.

Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov is hoping his side’s efforts will see the whole country get behind.

“I think half the country will find out that we have a World Cup when the whistle blows. It takes a long time for us to start driving but I think when we press the foot on the pedal, we go all the way,” said Cherchesov.

Saudi Juan Antonio Pizzi is encouraging his side to attack, and captain Osama Hawsawi says they are confident of getting something from the game.

“We have to do our best and progressing to the next stage is not impossible,” Hawsawi said.“

There are so many unpredictable things in the World Cup. We are focused now on the opening game and that will set the tone for the other matches.

“We are playing the hosts and are very ambitious. Like all the squads, we want to qualify for the final if we can. Nothing is impossible.”

See below for a preview on the game, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Russia 16:00 Saudi Arabia
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Live on ITV 1

TEAM NEWS AND POSSIBLE LINE-UPS: Russia are set to start veteran Sergei Ignashevich, who came out of international retirement because of a number of defensive injuries.
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi faces a selection dilemma with his strikers as he is set to decide between Mohammed Al-Sahlawi and Muhannad Assiri.

Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Fedor Kudryashov, Sergey Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin; Fedor Smolov

Saudi Arabia:
Abdullah Al-Mayouf; Usamah Husawi, Omar Hosawi, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammed Al-Barik; Abdullah Otif, Salman Al-Faraj, Yahya Al-Shihri, Taisir Al-Jassim, Salem Al Dosari; Fahad Al-Molad

Saudi Arabia are winless in their last 10 games at the World Cup, losing eight of them 
Match odds from bet365: RUSSIA 4/9 DRAW 10/3 SAUDI ARABIA 9/1
bet365 Pick: Under 1.5 goals @2/1
ANDY SAYS: I see an opening game shock, I think Russia are poor and Saudi could shock them with a win…0-1
GRAEME SAYS: This does not look like a great game, but you have to go with the hosts to claim victory…2-0
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Fyodor Smolov – could have a big tournament for the hosts, available at just over £1

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