Sunday 21 April 2019

Everything you need to know about Day One of the 2018 World Cup

Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov is comfortable with pressure (Tim Goode/Empics)
Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov is comfortable with pressure (Tim Goode/Empics)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

After a long and elaborate countdown, the World Cup finals are finally here as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the first game of the tournament

The opening game of the World Cup attracts a global audience of up to one billion people, so it is a real shame that Russia 2018 starts with a game that is unlikely to provide a fitting prelude for what is to come.

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has come under fire from the local media for his failure to find a winning formula, yet there must be a real danger the hosts will crash out in the first round.

Heavy defeats against Brazil and France in March set alarm bells ringing for Russian fans and their 1-1 draw against Turkey last Tuesday means they head into the World Cup without a victory in their last seven matches.

Saudi Arabia are led by coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, yet he faces an almost impossible challenge of piecing together a team ready for World Cup action as most of his players are based in a domestic league that lacks quality.

ONE TO WATCH: Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

The star of the CSKA Moscow side is expected to light up the World Cup this summer, but he faces a tough task.

TV Schedule: Coverage of the opening ceremony begins on RTÉ 2 from 3pm, with the game kicking off at 4pm.

VERDICT: Russia win in a low-quality game.

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