Colurful ceremony; five-star performance - Russian Federation flip the scripts on opening day

Juan Antonio Pizzi's men struggled to create a chance of note, failed to record a shot on target and gave away possession on countless occasions, enabling Russian Federation to record their first World Cup win since 2002.

The excitement level is already touching sky high as the local and global fans, who have reached the city, are waiting for the much-awaited opening ceremony and will provide the fans with pure emotions, joy, heartbreaks, thrilling games and remarkable goals.

As for Saudi Arabia, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has opted to select Mohammad Al-Sahlawi as the lone forward, with Muhannad Assiri having to make do with a place among the replacements.

The buzz worthy FIFA World Cup 2018 is off to a flying start!

"We are very disappointed by the defeat", Ezzat said, according to the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper. FIFA chief Gianni Infantino, two-time FIFA World Cup champion Ronaldo of Brazil and Sweden legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and other important personalities attended the opening ceremony.

Those two sides will still fancy their chances of progressing from Group A but the hosts have given themselves a chance of reaching their first World Cup knockout game since the demise of the Soviet Union.

There were two major highlights of the game: Cherychev's sublime control before scoring Russia's second goal and the marvelous free-kick by Golovin in the dying embers of the end.

Cherchesov, without two of his starting central defenders in Viktor Vasin and Georgi Dzhikiya, has to decide whether to use three or four at the back after recalling 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich.

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"I'm happy we've won but we shouldn't stop there", he added.

There is not much to be said about Saudi Arabia.

Alan Dzagoev should anchor the midfield with Golovin and Roman Zobnin, as versatile 22-year-old twins Aleksei and Anton Miranchuk are the wildcards in midfield or attack. Cherchesov abandoned his usual three-man backline with wing-backs in favor of a four-man defense against Austria last month, but Russian Federation lost 1-0 and failed to register a shot on target.

Russian Federation gave an impressive showing in front of Putin despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

Russia, placed in Group A, is playing its next Group stage match against Egypt on June 19 in St. Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia is facing Uruguay on June 20 in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Dzagoev was then replaced by Cheryshev as one of Russia's key players went down with what looked like a pretty serious hamstring injury.

Saudi Arabia will be led by Osama Hawsawi, who will look to keep his team watertight in defence. There is also the small matter of home court advantage that Russian Federation will have going for them. In such company the Russians, despite widespread criticism over poor results in the friendlies seriously counting on the playoffs - and therein lies another contradiction of the hosts of the world Cup.

"As for our strategy, we must change".

  • Lawrence Cooper