Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium
The 2018 World Cup kicks off with Russia taking on Saudi Arabia in Group A and we’re backing the hosts to grind out a workmanlike win.
Russia are ranked 70th in the world, three places below the Green Falcons in the FIFA chart, but that is partly because of facing some tough opponents in friendly matches.
They can be expected to step up on such efforts now facing more conducive company and will look to win their opening game in a group which also includes Uruguay and Egypt.
A cagey start is always on the cards in the first game of the tournament, but 27/10 for a draw half-time and a home win at full-time appeals in our Russia vs Saudi Arabia betting tips.
A Look At Russia’s Betting Odds
Russia have struggled to hit top form in warm-up matches, failing to win any of their last seven international friendlies.
However, although Stanislav Cherchesov’s side have lost to big teams, including Argentina, France and Brazil, they usually hold their own against the lesser nations.
New Zealand were beaten 2-0 at last year’s Confederations Cup and Cherchesov has made his side hard to break down by building from the back.
A Look At Saudi Arabia’s Betting Odds
Saudi Arabia are competing at a World Cup for the first time since 2006 and past history suggests they will find life tough at this level.
After beating Morocco and Belgium to progress to the last 16 in 1994, the Green Falcons suffered nine straight defeats at their next three tournaments, conceding 26 goals and scoring only four.
The road to Russia 2018 was a rocky one, losing the services of two coaches following the exits of Bert van Marwijk and Edgardo Bauza, until former Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi arrived to steady the ship.
A 1-0 win over Japan in the final round of Asian qualifying fixtures helped them pip Australia to second place behind the Samurai Blue on goal difference.
Things are about to get much tougher, though, and we’re backing Fedor Smolov to open the scoring at 5/2 in our Russia vs Saudi Arabia betting predictions.
The 28-year-old was the most prolific Russian marksman in his country’s domestic top flight last term and has netted in warm-up games against South Korea, Spain and France.
Group A Standings