Hosting the World Cup has long been a dream of Russia. President Vladimir Putin basked in the glory of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. Now he gets the biggest stage and event in soccer. Despite the thrill of hosting this event it’s not all sunshine for the Russians. Problematic is the home team itself. They are +4050 longshots with the World Cup betting odds to win the tournament. Also, there is nothing in team history that indicates an upset miracle run is probable. But as bad as Russia’s outlook is it could be worse. Saudi Arabia is utterly hopeless.
Saudi Arabia vs. Russia
Date and Time: Thursday, June 14, 2018, 11 a.m. ET
Location: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
World Cup Betting Online Odds at your favorite sportsbook: Russia -1 ½ (+112), Saudi Arabia +1 ½, (-127), Over 2 ½ (+119), Under 2 ½ (-134), Saudi Arabia +1125, Russia -285, Draw +385
2018 FIFA World Cup TV Coverage: Check Listings
Saudi Arabia is a +45000 long shot with the World Cup betting odds. Historically this is a team that has little to fall back on. 1994 was their best World Cup run. That year they finished 12th after making the round of 16. Even worse is that Saudi Arabia has been regressing. Qualification last came for them in 2006. Failure to make the cut in 2010 and 2014 was an embarrassment. For 2018 they needed a good share of luck to barely get in. But get in they did.
Lack of Stability in Saudi Arabia
The Green Falcons had to beat Japan on the final day to qualify. Fortunately, the Japanese had nothing to play for that day. Later, head coach Bert Van Marwijk was hired in desperation. He did his job and got the team into the World Cup. Yet he departed and was replaced by Edgardo Bauza. Bauza departed shortly thereafter. Former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi currently has the reins. In the meantime, such instability only adds to the difficulties for Saudi Arabia.
Russia is a young team with little accomplished. They had no qualifiers to have to play. They lost recent friendlies to Brazil (3-0) and France (3-1). Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov was hired in August of 2016. He previously played goalkeeper for the national team. Interestingly enough Russia’s top player is a goalkeeper. Igor Akinfeev would be a key contributor to any potential upset run in this event. Furthermore, inexperience on defense is quite worrisome. Defensive mistakes have plagued Russia’s sportsbook prospects. And as great as Akinfeev has been even he is known for inopportune errors.
Russians on the Field
Russian youngsters Viktor Vasin, Fedor Kudryashov and Georgi Dzhikiya are the back three. Igor Dzagoev would bring much needed defensive ability. But he and Cherchesov had a falling out with Dynamo Moscow in the pro ranks. Attack wise the Russians are capable if not impressive. Veteran Alan Dzagoev remains productive. Strikers Fyodor Smolov and Aleksandr Kokorin scored regularly in 2017. Twin brothers Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk are hoping to break through as World Cup assets as soon as the event begins.
Matchup to Watch
Russia is fortunate open against such a World Cup betting odds long shot. Saudi Arabia is thin and in turmoil. They will be up against a better prepared and deeper opponent. This is the first game to open the tournament. Homeland fans should be happy.
2018 FIFA World Cup Betting Odds Picks
Russia should dominate Saudi Arabia for an impressive win
World Cup Betting Online Pick: Russia
World Cup Betting Online Score Prediction: Russia 3, Saudi Arabia 0