2018 World CupHost Russia take on Saudi Arabia

Published : 20:55, Jun 14, 2018 | Updated : 21:09, Jun 14, 2018

Saudi Arabia's players line up before the match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia on June 14, 2018 REUTERSHosts Russia picked stylish striker Fyodor Smolov to lead their attack as they seek to get the World Cup off to a celebratory start with victory in Thursday’s opening game against Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.The 28-year-old is considered key to Russia’s chances of advancing past the group stage, but he has not scored for his country since the 3-1 loss to France in March.
Sergei Ignashevich, Russia’s 38-year-old defender who recently came out of retirement, also starts as the hosts look to snap a run of seven matches without success, stretching back to last October.
Saudi Arabia kept faith with the majority of the team that lost by a single goal to Germany in their final warmup in Leverkusen, making three changes to last Friday’s starting lineup.
Playmaker Yahya Al-Shehri is expected to be key to Saudi Arabia’s hopes of being able to dictate the pace of the game.