Russian Federation opens World Cup with thumping of Saudi Arabia
20 June, 2018, 22:28 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
After all the politicking for the 2026 World Cup, all the controversy over the hosts and the ceaseless debates about VAR, football, finally, took the centre-stage. Now, it's up to the members of the national team that make up the host nation to deliver two more times. Billions of Football lovers around the world have waited four years to see this happen as Russian Federation hosts the FIFA World Cup for the year 2018.
Midfielder Gazinsky gave his country the flawless start, arrowing a header into the bottom corner in the 12th minute with his first effort on target, and substitute Cherushev doubled the hosts' advantage just before the break.
"We brought them the best technical support, a team of the highest level and we paid them for three years".
Saudi Arabia had no answer for the men in red and white as Artem Dzyuba scored his team's third goal in the 71st minute.
Straight from the kick-off, Russian Federation started with a high pressure on Saudi's defensive line, and it didn't take long to see the first goal in Al-Muaiouf's net.
Singer Robbie Williams performed during a colourful opening ceremony before the match, marking the start of a feast of football that will see 64 games played at 12 venues over the next month.
Russian Federation have not won since October 2017 but will still hope to make it to the second round after being drawn in a group also containing Egypt and Uruguay.
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Provider Golovin, the youngest player in Russia's squad, turned poacher as he curled home a free-kick in injury time for Russia's coup de grace.
Igor Akinfeev, Russia's most recognisable player and first-choice goalkeeper for more than a decade, admits his team-mates must take the game to the opposition.
The celebrations didn't last long, because Russian star Alan Dzagoev limped off with what looked to be a serious hamstring injury.
TEAM NEWSRussia have brought 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich out of worldwide retirement because of a number of defensive injuries and he is expected to start. He was paired up alongside Roman Zobnin and Gazinsky. The Russian Football Union had organised two pre-World Cup friendlies against Austria and Turkey in the hope that victories against either side would instil some confidence ahead of the tournament, but the Sbornaya fell to defeat against Austria and could only draw with Turkey.
"I don't think they did anything to surprise us", Pizzi said.
Saudi Arabia were continuing to give possession away easily and, from another concession dangerously close to their own area, Golovin fired over. However the hosts were very comfortable as they pressed Saudi Arabia's defense whenever they could and that led to their second goal. From this point of view, the bettors should expect more of the same from Saudi Arabia, as the odds provided by BetDSI Sportsbook are suggesting them as a clear underdog in this tournament, while the hosts will try to replicate this performance in the next game against Egypt where they will need a win to clinch the second round.
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Alireza Jahanbakhsh and and midfielder Omid Ebrahimi have both shaken off knocks from the first match and are in contention. Spain will face Morroco in their final group stage game on Monday, June 25 while Iran will face Portugal on the same day.
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