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Russia's Last Six:
Won: 0 Drawn: 2 Lost: 4
Only two of Russia’s squad play outside of their homeland, with Villarreal winger Denis Cheryshev the only one likely to feature. The home supporters will hope Fyodor Smolov gets off to a good start as he’ll be central to Russian chances.
Saudi Arabia's Last Six:
Won: 2 Drawn: 0 Lost: 4
The Saudis need Mohammad Al-Sahlawi on form. He has 28 goals in 40 international appearances and will be the first name on former Spain striker Juan Antonio Pizzi’s team sheet.
It’s time for the build-up to stop and the action to begin. The first game of the 2018 World Cup features two of the tournament’s lowest-ranked teams, but that doesn’t stop it from being a potential cracker, with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia.
Russia are 2/5 as part of the best football betting tips for this match as they look to get the bandwagon rolling right from the off. They won’t feature in too many World Cup predictions when it comes to going deep into the tournament, but home advantage could turn out to be a factor. They should have enough for the win in this game either way.
Saudi Arabia are 11/1 in your football predictions as they look to put a serious dampener on their hosts’ prospects. The Green Falcons have beaten Algeria and Greece in their warm-up friendlies, which has helped them overtake Russia as the lowest-ranked side in the tournament according to FIFA. They’re up against it here, though.
The draw is 4/1 and could be on the cards if this turns out to be an edgy match, with so much riding on it for both teams. Uruguay and Egypt await in their next fixtures, and if neither nation is able to make the breakthrough then the goalless draw comes into play at 17/2.
Smolov is 3/1 in the first goalscorer market, meaning he starts as the favourite for the first goal of this World Cup. Artem Dzyuba – who has 11 goals in 23 caps so far – is available at 11/2 to break the deadlock.
For Saudi, almost all of their hopes for the summer are pinned on Al-Sahlawi firing at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday. He’s 10/1 to break the deadlock and 12/1 to be on target in a victory for the Green Falcons.
Predicted Score: Russia 2 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Look out for:
Smolov to be on form. The Krasnodar forward has 12 goals in 32 international appearances and is 21/20 with Boylesports to score in a Russia win.
Our forecast for this game is a 2-0 victory for Russia. Getting football score predictions spot on isn’t easy, but you can get odds of 5/1 with Unibet on the hosts winning by that scoreline.
It's a long shot, but...
If you add Smolov to your football prediction for this game, you can get odds of 11/1 with BetVictor on him scoring first in a 2-0 Russia win.
Oli Coates is a huge sports fan, particularly football and especially Manchester United, who follows sports betting closely and has written extensively on the market. An experienced writer, Oli has covered everything from travel to how to care for your pets!