WORLD CUP: We preview Thursday’s World Cup opener between RUSSIA v SAUDI ARABIA with a recommended BETDAQ bet.


4pm It’s finally here! The 2018 World Cup gets underway at 4pm BST on Thursday afternoon as the hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia. The hosts have only failed to reach the knockout stages once in history, and that was South Africa who wouldn’t be a strong football nation; however you have to say that this is the weakest Russian side in years and the hosts have to get off to a winning start here.

The match odds at the time of writing currently trade; Russia 1.45, Saudi Arabia 10.5 and the draw is 4.5. Back in 2008, Russia made it to the semi finals of Euro 2008 and Zenit St-Petersburg won the Europa League (UEFA Cup) – things were looking good for Russian football when they won the right to host this tournament in 2010. They arrive here though with no win in their last six and while it’s fair enough that they couldn’t beat France, Brazil, Spain or Argentina – they lost to Austria and only drew against Turkey in their last two games.

With a lot of pressure being the host nation and a team who doesn’t look full of confidence, the 1.45 on Russia to win here only seems for the brave. However it’s fair to say though that they couldn’t have got an easier start facing Saudi Arabia. They have planned poorly for this World Cup – they sent their best players out for loan spells in Spain only to see them get more or less no game time between them. They have consistently changed their managers in recent years too and it’s hard to know what to expect from them. They appear to be a poor side, and any win for them in this World Cup would be a shock.

We can see this being quite a cagey affair, with Russia grinding out a win in the end. We feel that the Russian price is a little short for backing; however we don’t want to lay them against a side as weak as Saudi Arabia. We feel that Saudi Arabia will come to try and defend here, and with Russia not scoring too many goals lately – the value looks to be with under 2.5 goals in this one. That’s trading 1.7 at the time of writing and that definitely looks value to start the competition. We could be in for a dull start, but it can only get better!

Under 2.5 goals at 1.7.

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