Russia vs. Saudi Arabia
|Date & Time||Thursday June 14, 2018, 11:00 AM (EDT)|
The Line: SA +847 / Russia -223 / Draw +349 -- Over/Under: 2.5
Russia and Saudi Arabia meet Thursday in the 2018 World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium.
There aren’t much expectations for Russia, as some would consider this to be one of the weaker teams in the clubs history. Russia hasn’t won a match since October against South Korea and has an extremely weak defense. You can pressure the Russians rather easily, and this club is allowing an average of two goals in its last four matches. The back end of this team doesn’t put up much of a fight and allowing three goals in three of its last five matches doesn’t provide much confidence. If you’re looking for a bright spot, Russia doesn’t have a highly experience goalie in Igor Akinfeev, who has over 100 caps under his belt and has more clean sheets in the history of the country. Fyodor Smolov is a proven striker who has shined in international play with 12 goals in 32 caps and continued that success with Krasnodar. Oh, Russia is also the host country, so maybe having a stadium packed with cheering fans helps provide an advantage as well. Overall, however, Russia is facing a tall task of making it out of this group, especially if the defense doesn’t improve.
Saudi Arabia is in the World Cup for the first time since 2006 and enters the tournament on a three-match losing streak. Saudi Arabia was outscored 2-7 during those three losses and didn’t help change the narrative that this club can’t hang with some of the better teams in the world. Saudi Arabia has very little experience playing in big tournaments and has just two players on its roster with more than 60 caps. It also doesn’t help that this club has had four different coaches over the last three years. A lack of experience could prevent the Green Falcons from making a run this time around. However, a pair of playmakers in Yahya Al-Shehri and Mohammad Al-Sahlawi are more than capable of taking over a match if they catch a defense sleeping. Al-Sahlawi consistently finds the back of the net in international play and Al-Shehri is a soon-to-be-28-year-old who has a great feel for the game and is very dangerous in space.
There’s no previous meetings between these two sides.
Saudi Arabia hasn’t proven itself on the big stage against quality competition, and the lack of experience along with the coaching changes won’t help this group. Russia has the home crowd and knows it has to win this match if it wants a real chance to advance out of the group stages. With that said, however, Russia is a bad team that I’m not looking to back during this tournament. The Russians don’t deserve to be this big of a favorite, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost outright.
I’m going to take the Green Falcons and the spread, as this is more of a fade from Russia and that poor defense than anything else.