The first match of a major tournament can often be a cagey affair although there are reasons for thinking that the curtain-raiser at World Cup 2018 will feature several goals.
Saudi Arabia look like one of the worst teams in the tournament and they’ve had some defensively poor matches in 2018, including a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Iraq before a 4-0 thrashing against Belgium.
While 2-0 victories over Algeria and Greece followed, there was recently a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Italy, with Peru and Germany also likely to give the Green Falcons a stern examination before the Asian side prepare for the tournament proper.
The majority of the squad play in their native Saudi Arabia with the exception of Yahya Al-Shehri, Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who play their club football in Spain and these midfielders should add some quality.
There is experience in the ranks and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi boasts a fine scoring record for his country which has seen the Al-Nassr forward bag 28 goals in 38 international appearances although several of these have come against lesser teams.
Russia are the host nation and will want to bank three points before further Group A matches against Egypt and Uruguay, with this match representing their easiest clash on paper.
While this doesn’t look a particularly strong Russian side, they are blessed with players who have experience of playing not only in the Russian Super League but also in European competition.
Once again, there are defensive issues when it comes to Russia, with 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich likely to struggle and there isn’t a huge amount of quality coming through the ranks.