Russian Federation destroy Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the World Cup

Can Al Sahlawi regain his form against Russia

Can Al Sahlawi regain his form against Russia

More than 200 national football federations are to set to vote at around midday local time in Moscow (0900 GMT) at their annual meeting one day before the 2018 World Cup kicks off.

This might be the worst possible timing for Russia to host a World Cup as its Federation Internationale de Football Association ranking of 70 is the lowest in the tournament and the lowest ever for the Russians.

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has the worst win percentage (26.3%) when compared to the previous coaches of the Russian team.

The domestically based Saudi squad is desperately short of global exposure and the experiment of sending nine players on loan to Spanish clubs for the second half of the season proved something of a disaster. For Ukrainian fans it is, first and foremost, is a pleasant memory of the victory of Ukraine at the 2006 world Cup and unpleasant - in a 1-1 draw in a friendly match in the spring of 2018.

Technically, if based on Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, the underdog won.

The countries have only ever faced-off once, back in 1993 when the Saudis triumphed 4-2 in a friendly. A pair of extra-time goals gave the host team some extra cushion in the goal-differential category.

However, despite extensive experience, the team of cherchesova manages to play extremely volatile, not knowing victories in the last seven and losing four of them. The win has garnered all three points, but the goals were even better. This is important also in terms of setting up a good goal difference. Yury Gazinsky was given a free header - he accepted it with pleasure.

However, Russia substitute Artem Dzyuba made it 3-0 to the hosts 20 minutes before time barely a minute after coming on with a fine header inside the box. Dimitry Cherchesov's side have given themselves an excellent chance of qualifying from Group A, thanks to goals from Yuri Gazinskiy, Denis Cheryshev with two, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin.

"There are no words to describe how I'm feeling", said Cheryshev, before settling on "happy". Despite the accolade, Golovin was more deserving of the Man of the Match honors.

Golovin was again a standout player for Stanislav Cherchesov's men and often looked a cut above every other player on the pitch.

Golovin: "For us, each game is like the last".

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Fox Sports called them "not your average subs".

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov has been working overtime trying to rebuild his team, particularly defensively, after a cruel run of serious injuries to some of his most experienced operators, but the tournament has arrived without him showing much evidence of progress.

Cheryshev's career in LaLiga has been blighted by injury, first at Real Madrid and then in subsequent spells at Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal.

However, with Dzagoev out, Cheryshev has shown his capabilities in the midfield.

The impressive Golovin provided the crosses for the headed goals and Roman Zobnin went close with a low strike that Abdullah Al-Mayoof saved low down.

"We are very disappointed by the defeat", Ezzat said, according to the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper. "Thank God everything worked out well!"

Arguably Russia's most prolific striker, Dzyuba has had a tough year. He was whistled offside twice.

Saudi Arabia attempted to continue with their possession-based game in the second half.

For the Russians, there's captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev with 105 caps, plus the 38-year-old central defender Sergei Ignashevich (121). Admittedly a repeat result appears unlikely, although if Pizzi's men can frustrate their opponents they may come away with a result, however if Russian Federation score early on then it's hard to look past anything other than a win for the hosts, with a 2-0 victory priced at 4/1. After Russia's first goal television coverage switched to the watching dignitaries in the stands as the Crown Prince shook hands with Putin.

Russia's next test won't be a walk in the park.

The win for Russian Federation is a big boost to its hopes of advancing, but it will still face a tough test against Egypt on June 19 and Uruguay six days later. The match is slated to begin at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The team from the host nation will go against Egypt and Uruguay next.

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