The 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday as host Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. It’s the opener of the tournament, which means it’ll probably be the most watched game involving these two teams in Group A. The host nation and Saudi Arabia will battle for three vital points, with the group’s second match between Uruguay and Egypt arriving on Friday on a three-match day.
Winning the first match you play is key if you are to move on, and the pressure is on Russia to deliver in front of its home crowd in Moscow.
Russia enters the match in full strength but has yet to win a friendly in 2018, with two of the matches coming against Brazil and France. Will all the tests pay off in the opener.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, played well in a 2-1 loss to Germany last week and is confident it can get something in this game, with a draw being a quality result. Nobody on the team will be more hungry to deliver than coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who failed to guide Chile to qualification to the World Cup but still managed to make the tournament himself after landing the Saudi gig in November.
Here’s how you can watch the match and our prediction. And be sure to return about a half an hour before kickoff for our live blog of the game:
How to watch
When: Thursday at 11 a.m. ET
Where: Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow
TV: Fox and Telemundo
Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
This is Saudi Arabia’s fifth World Cup, their first since 2006. They have finished bottom of their group in their last three appearances, their best performance dating back to their opening tournament in 1994 (knocked out by Sweden in the round of 16).
Saudi Arabia have won none of their last 10 games at the World Cup, losing eight of them (D2). In fact, their last win in the competition dates back to the group stages of the 1994 edition (1-0 v Belgium, 29th June 1994).
Saudi Arabia have kept only one clean sheet in their 13 games at the World Cup – it was in their 1-0 win against Belgium in June 1994. They have also failed to score in seven of their last nine games in the tournament.