Russia may be massive favourites to kick-off their 2018 World Cup with a win this afternoon, however there will be a huge amount of pressure on the host nation and the fact remains that they are far from a significant force on the international circuit. Following the draw for the group stage back in December, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov recognised that his men faced tougher challenges as the group phase progressed with this meeting with Saudi Arabia followed by clashes with Egypt and Uruguay. As such the Russians really do need to get off to the best possible start.
Many believe that Russia are over-rated purely because of their position as host nation and punters who believe that an upset is on the cards have a chance to grab for themselves some big value on the Saudis with BetVictor Bookies going as high as 9/1 for them to win. This same bookie is going 15/8 on the Double Chance market, meaning that you can cover the options on Saudi Arabia by backing them to either win or draw this afternoon.
Indeed Russia’s recent form suggests that this won’t be a ‘walk in the park’ for the host nation. Cherchesov’s men have lost six and won just one of their last ten outings across all competitions and the Saudis will be hoping that they haven’t overstretched themselves having played no less than five pre-tournament warm-up matches in the space of under one month.
What we do envisage in this match is a few goals, given that neither side can boast a rock-solid defence and we’re expecting a thoroughly entertaining World Cup opener. Nevertheless we’ll be avoiding the outright market given the respective frailties of both sides and as far as we’re concerned, the value lies in backing goals at both ends with Ladbrokes Bookies going 7/4 on Both Teams to Score.