Nearly four years of waiting has contributed to this. Precisely 1432 days after Mario Gotze’s extra time target watched Germany add a fourth celebrity to the jersey, Russia and Saudi Arabia take into the field to begin a second chapter in the storied history of the FIFA World Cup™.
Russia vs Saudi Arabia sides come in the fixture on a fairly undesirable run of recent form. Russia have failed to win in seven non-competitive attempts since beating Korea Republic in October, while that the Saudis have lost three friendly matches in a row – albeit to strong resistance in Italy, Peru and World Cup holders Germany.
Both are also hoping for victory in the Luzhniki to end a barren run at the worldwide finals: Russia haven’t won at the World Cup since 2002, while Saudi Arabia’s last worldwide finals’ success came at USA 1994.
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Igor Borunov using Russia
regardless of the fact that public criticism has grown because of Russia’s recent form in friendly games, the hosts wish to show their worth in the opener against Saudi Arabia. They’ve spent a silent working week in their foundation in Novogorsk, far away from the hub of World Cup action in Moscow, and seem recharged and ready to deliver.
The Saudi team are trying to get a good result to show a positive picture of the nation’s footballing development to the world. Partly as a result of the occasion, they will likely be careful from the start. Following the opening ten minutes, Juan Antonio Pizzi will have a better idea of the Russians’ strengths and alter his plan accordingly.
No host team has lost in the Opening Match of this World Cup, that has produced six victories and three draws for the home side. Russia also have been at the Saudis’ shoes before, having contested a World Cup opener since the off side: they drew 0-0 with Mexico in 1970 as the Soviet Union.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Fedor Kudryashov, Mario Fernandes, Sergey Ignashevich, Roman Zobnin, Yuri Zhirkov; Daler Kuzyaev, Aleksandr Samedov, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin; Fedor Smolov
Saudi Arabia: Abdullah Al-Mayouf; Omar Hosawi, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Usamah Husawi, Abdullah Otif, Taisir Al-Jassim, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Al-Barik; Yahya Al-Shihri, Salem Al Dosari; Fahad Al-Molad