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Group Stage Round 1 + Opening Ceremony

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Thursday June 14: Russia v Saudi Arabia (Group A) - Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm ITV

 

Friday June 15: Egypt v Uruguay (Group A) - Ekaterinburg, 1pm BBC

Friday June 15: Morocco v Iran (Group B)- St Petersburg, 4pm ITV

Friday June 15: Portugal v Spain (Group B)- Sochi, 7pm BBC

 

Saturday June 16: France v Australia (Group C) - Kazan, 11am BBC

Saturday June 16: Argentina v Iceland (Group D) - Moscow (Spartak), 2pm ITV

Saturday June 16: Peru v Denmark (Group C) - Saransk, 5pm BBC

Saturday June 16: Croatia v Nigeria (Group D) - Kaliningrad, 8pm ITV

 

Sunday June 17: Costa Rica v Serbia (Group E) - Samara, 1pm ITV

Sunday June 17: Germany v Mexico (Group F) - Moscow (Luzhniki), 4pm BBC

Sunday June 17: Brazil v Switzerland (Group E) - Rostov-on-Don, 7pm ITV

 

Monday June 18: Sweden v South Korea (Group F) - Nizhny Novgorod, 1pm ITV

Monday June 18: Belgium v Panama (Group G) - Sochi, 4pm BBC

Monday June 18: Tunisia v England (Group G) - Volgograd, 7pm BBC

 

Tuesday June 19: Colombia v Japan (Group H) - Saransk, 1pm BBC

Tuesday June 19: Poland v Senegal (Group H) - Moscow (Spartak), 4pm ITV

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The World Cup will kick off in honest on Thursday at Moscow’s newly renovated Luzhniki Stadium. It will be the first true test for the Sbornaya as they will face the Green Falcons from Saudi Arabia.

Coached by Stanislav Cherchesov, Russia had a horrid time preparing for the tournament. Winless in four friendlies ahead of the tournament (D1 L3) Russia failed to secure wins against Austria (0-1) and Turkey (1-1). Friendlies, however, are seldom a sign of true strength, at the same time the Sbornayahave struggled now for quite some time and failed to get out of the group stage at the 2016 European Championships and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

At the Confederations Cup last summer Russia, like it is the case this summer, faced the weakest opponent to kick off the tournament in New Zealand. Like it was the case last summer Russia will have to get all three points against Saudi Arabia to have a fighting chance in Group A that also includes Uruguay and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia ranked three places ahead of Russia in the FIFA World Ranking, however, will not be an easy opponent for a side lacking confidence at the moment. The Green Falcons, in the meantime, will take confidence from their last friendly against Germany where despite going down by two goals early they managed to get back into the game and almost managed to get a 2-2 draw in the dying moments of the game.

Sitting deep the Green Falcons managed to break forward quickly when winning the ball. Germany’s defenders, Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng, were able to contain the fast majority of those quick counter-attacks. Russia’s defence, however, is much slower and the likes of Sergei Ignashevich could struggle with the speed of Saudi Arabia’s attack.

Regardless, Russia will be the favourites going into the match irrespective as the Luzhniki Stadium will be a cauldron backing their Sbornaya. Key for Russia will be to contain the pressure of having to win the match; the quality should be there to get the job done the question will be whether the Russian players have the nerves to step up to the occasion.

Fedor Smolov #10 – Russia (Krasnodar)

Fedor Smolov is the biggest star in this Russia side and will lead the side up front. The striker has scored 12 goals in 32 games for the Sbornaya, and one of those goals was the winner against New Zealand in the first match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup last summer. That game, in particular, highlighted that Smolov could get the job done, even when under pressure, and fans of the Sbornaya will once again look at the Krasnodar striker when it comes to clutch moments in Russia’s crucial first World Cup match against Saudi Arabia.  

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi #10 – Saudi-Arabia (Al-Nasser Riad)

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi has one thing in common with Robert Lewandowski. Both managed to score 16 goals in World Cup qualifying. Eight of those goals, however, were scored against East Timor – theGreen Falcons scored 17 goals (7-0 and 10-0) in the two matches against the East Asian side. There is no doubt that Al-Sahlawi is Saudi Arabia’s best striker, but can he translate his game to facing bigger opponents like Germany? Against other top sides from Asia Al-Sahlawi has struggled only scoring once – in a 3-2 defeat to Australia. In recent friendlies against Moldova, Ukraine, Belgium, Algeria, Greece, Peru and Germany – Al-Sahlawi was left without a goal.

Russia vs Saudi Arabia – Match Stats

  • Saudi Arabia will be the first team from the Asian Football Confederation to play the opening match at a FIFA World Cup.
  • Ranked 70th in the FIFA World Rankings Russia are the lowest ranked team at the FIFA World Cup.
  • Saudi Arabia are ranked three spots ahead of them in 67thspot as the second lowest ranked team at the World Cup.
  • Russia and Saudi Arabia have faced each other only once in history. The Green Falconsbeat the Sbornaya 4-2 at a friendly in 1993.
  • Russia are still without a win (D1 L3) in four games in 2018.

 

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Fucking stupid it kicks off at 4pm. 

 

No work is getting done

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All fixtures are getting shown at the cinema at work. Shame it's not noon kick off 

3 screens on my desk alternatively. 

Not much work getting done over the next couple weeks.

it's times like this I love my job

Hope it's a decent tournament over all

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Made sure I’m working from home on the big days, tomorrow will be blessed 🙌🏻

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Put a tenner on Saudi at that price.

Russia are gash, Saudi play some nice stuff. Probs be a draw though.

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46 minutes ago, Mongy said:

Put a tenner on Saudi at that price.

Russia are gash, Saudi play some nice stuff. Probs be a draw though.

Gone same way

but lets hope for some goals and a draw more then anything

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7 minutes ago, youcleanwepaint said:

Zhirkov still about 

them cl winners deya 

You what mate?

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17 minutes ago, Heero Yuy said:

imagine how many people told russia nah before robbie got the call :lmao:

 

:rofl:

 

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Serious pressing/pressure from Russia. No way they can keep this up. If Saudi keep them out til 2nd half, the game is theirs.

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