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Russia v Saudi Arabia kicks off 2018 FIFA World Cup

15:15 EAT 12/06/2018
Russia team 30052018
The opening game, which kicks off at 6.00pm local time on 14 June, takes place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

The FIFA World Cup finally kicks off this coming Thursday (14 June) with hosts Russia opening the event against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital. After a disappointing showing at the Confederations Cup last year, Russia will be looking to put in a strong display as they battle to make at least the round of 16.

Kicking off

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Saudi Arabia come into the competition having lost 2-1 to giants Italy, who will not be at the World Cup this summer. This is Saudi Arabia’s fifth showing at the World Cup, but their preparations have not exactly been ideal for this event.

Coach Edgardo Bauza was sacked after only five games in charge, and there has been little continuity to their approach work. It is little surprise that Saudi Arabia are all the way out at 10.00 to take three points in this one, while Russia are clear favourites, priced at 1.44, according to Oddsshark.

As hosts, Russia of course did not have to qualify and the lack of competitive football may well come back to haunt them. They are the lowest ranked of any of the 32 teams at the tournament, and have not progressed from the group stage of any tournament since 2008.

To make things worse, the Russians have not won a game since October 2017, and it may be a stretch to think that they can hit the ground running. A draw may be a safer bet, with a stalemate priced at 4.40.

A score draw is at 6.50, but if you think there will be no goals in the World Cup opener the you can back that option at 8.00. If you want to give yourself a better chance of winning, you can also go for the “Double chance” option – you can back Russia to win or a draw at 1.071, Saudi Arabia to win or a draw at 2.80, or either side to take all three points at 1.22.

Odds: Russia (1.44), Saudi Arabia (10.00), draw (4.40)

The second game in Group A sees Egypt and Uruguay lock horns, and it is looking increasingly likely that star forward Mo Salah will not be fit in time for the African nation. Without their talisman, Egypt’s chances are seriously diminished against an experienced and highly talented Uruguayan side.

And it is the South Americans who come into this one as the clear favourites to pick up the win. Uruguay are at a very short 1.60 to win their opening match at the World Cup, while Egypt are all the way out at 7.50 to make a winning start.

Uruguay’s recent runs in tournaments has been impressive. They reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, won the 2011 Copa América and have performed consistently well at three consecutive editions of the FIFA competition now.

In Luís Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay also boast quite possible the most potent strike force in Russia this summer. The pair are the top two favourites to get on the score sheet against Egypt on Friday (15 June).

Suarez is priced at 4.00 to score either first or last, and is at 2.10 to score at any time during the match. Cavani, for his part, is just behind his compatriot, at 4.33 to score either first or last and at 2.20 to score at any point.

The highest Egyptian player on the goal scorer list is forward Marwan Mohsen, who is at a massive 12.00 to score either first or last, and is at 5.50 to score during the game. Whichever way you slice this cake, it looks to be an uphill struggle for Egypt from the off.

Predicting the exact score of any given name is always a tricky business, but a 2-0 win for Uruguay is at a fairly short price of 6.00. A stalemate in this one is priced at 3.75, but you can be more specific.

Think it will be a goalless draw? You can back your hunch at 7.00, while a scoring draw is slightly shorter at 6.00. Meanwhile, Uruguay to win this one by a two goal margin is priced at 4.50.

The South Americans are also the clear favourites to top the group. They are at 1.72, with Russia behind them on 3.00 and Egypt look to be worthy backing at the comparatively long price of 6.50. Saudi Arabia look to be pout of the running at 41.00.

Odds: Egypt (7.50), Uruguay (1.60), draw (3.75)