We are not going to lie to you; this doesn't look like it's going to be a football match of particularly high quality.
Ranked 66th in the world by FIFA, Russia are a shadow of the team that excited all of us at Euro 2006. They've also suffered a host of injuries in the build up to the World Cup, including their star striker Aleksandr Kokorin.
Saudi Arabia are one place behind Russia in the World Rankings and although they have some exciting attackers including Salem al-Dawsari, Yahya al-Shehri and Fahad al-Muwallad, Saudi's players - who mostly play in the domestic league - rarely get to face the world class opposition they'll face this summer.
|2010 South Africa||Mexico||1-1|
|2006 Germany||Costa Rica||4-2|
|2002 Japan & South korea||Belgium & Poland||2-2 & 2-0|
|1998 France||South Africa||3-0|
|1974 West Germany||Chile||1-0|
|1970 Mexico||Soviet Union||0-0|
In the above table we have listed all the opening matches for each World Cup host throughout the history of the World Cup - thank you Wikipedia!
Now, it is important to know that not every World Cup began with a match involving the host. In fact, this seems to have only really become a tradition after 2002. It is also important to remember that the early World Cups had started in the knockout stage. So, the first game would have been a must win.
Having taken this all into account it is still interesting to see that not once did a host team lose their opening game.
What about this match? well, Russia will have to play Uruguay and Egypt so we really see this as a must win for the host nation - not neccassarily in order to progress but to save some face. This is not a prime Russia team and they will not want to be the first host to lose their first match.
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