Its been 1432 days since Germany lifted the FIFA World Cup in 2014, as the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium. The competition will be played in 12 stadiums, across 11 cities, spread over 1,800 miles.
The opening match will commence after the opening ceremony scheduled at half an hour before kick-off at 8:30 PM IST as hosts Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. The home team led by coach Stanislav Cherchesov will look to make history. Should Russia qualify from group A, where they face Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay, It will be their first ever qualification to the knock-outs stage.
Saudi Arabia’s manager, Juan Antonio Pizzi will be leading the Saudi Arabia national team in Group A, the former Chile coach failed to make the Copa America champions progress to the world cup 2018 but was later offered the Saudi Arabia coach role.
Both Russia and Saudi Arabia have had a rather unpleasant run heading to the world cup with Russia failing to secure a win in 7 non competitive attempts since beating Korea republic in October, while Saudis have lost three friendly matches in a row- albeit to strong opposition in Italy, Peru and World Cup holders Germany.
Both will also be hoping for victory at the Luzhniki to end a barren run at the global finals: Russia have not won at the World Cup since 2002, while Saudi Arabia’s last global finals’ victory came at USA 1994. (FIFA official website)
Russia competition history:
World Cup appearances: Four
Best finish: Group stage in all three.
Last Participation in World Cup: 2014, finishing 24th.
Saudi Arabia Competition history:
World Cup appearances: Five
Best finish: Round fo 16 in 1994
Last Participation in World Cup: 2006
— Saudi National Team (@SaudiNT_EN) June 14, 2018
Official FIFA Team Reporter Analysis – Igor Borunov with Russia:
Despite the fact that public criticism has grown due to Russia’s recent form in friendly games, the hosts are hoping to show their value in the opener against Saudi Arabia. They’ve spent a quiet working week at their base in Novogorsk, far away from the hub of World Cup activity in Moscow, and seem recharged and ready to deliver.
Abdullah Alghazal with Saudi Arabia-
The Saudi team are striving for a good result to show a positive image of the nation’s footballing development to the world. Partly as a result of the occasion, they will likely be cautious from the start. After the opening ten minutes, Juan Antonio Pizzi will have a better idea of the Russians’ strengths and alter his plan accordingly. (Official FIFA Website)
(with Inputs from official FIFA website)