Russia vs. Saudi Arabia Prediction
The 2018 World Cup is finally upon us as host country Russia will take on Saudi Arabia in a Group A contest? Will the Russians make the home fans happy or will it be Saudi Arabia that posts the tournament's first win?
97800 Saudi Arabia vs. 97801 Russia
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Luzhniki Stadium at 11AM ET
Public Betting Information
According to oddsmakers, Russia is a -227 favorite to win on the moneyline. Saudi Arabia is a +750 underdog, while the line set for a draw is +315. The total is set at 2.5 goals.
Russia has all-time low FIFA ranking
This might be the worst possible timing for Russia to host a World Cup as its FIFA ranking of 70 is the lowest in the tournament and the lowest ever for the Russians. As the host country, Russia drew an automatic bid. Luckily for Russia, it has a manageable group and faces in its first game a team only three spots above in the FIFA rankings in Saudi Arabia. Russian head coach Stanislav Cherchislav is a former national team goalie and he'll need to make sure Russia gets three points from its first game because it gets no easier from there with Egypt and Uruguay looming.
Fedor Smolov will look to lead Russia into battle as he has been a prolific goal scorer in club play, netting 52 goals over the last three seasons playing in the top Russian league. In the last seven friendlies, Russia has exactly zero wins.
Saudi Arabia makes World Cup return
It's been 12 years since the Green Falcons participated in the World Cup and they'll have a shot against a beatable Russian squad, although being the true road team certainly doesn't help. Saudi Arabia is 3-6 in friendlies this year and is coached by former Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. Saudia Arabia's best World Cup came in 1994 when it advanced to the final 16.
The Green Falcons don't have any World Cup experience, but does boast some veterans including 34-year-old defender Osama Hawsawi, who has registered 135 caps and will be a key figure in slowing down Smolov.
Russia and Saudi Arabia have met only once before, that coming in 1993 when the Saudis prevailed 4-2 at home in a friendly.
I think the moneyline is far too much in favor of a mediocre Russian team, which is largely due to it being the host team. Saudi Arabia should be able to grind out a respectable performance and while I can't see an outright win by the Green Falcons, I believe it has what it takes to secure a draw. The +315 for a tie is too much for me to pass up.
WORLD CUP DAILY PREDICTION: RUSSIA/SAUDI ARABIA DRAW +315