Carabao Cup Semi-Final Preview
Russia kick off proceedings in the 2018 World Cup with their match against Saudi Arabia in the Luzhniki Stadium.
Throughout the tournament, I’ll be giving my #PriceItUp recommendations for the games in the tournament – in a bid to help you land #TheMillionPoundBet, as well the £5,000 on offer every match day.
In Russia’s last four World Cup games, there have been under 2.5 goals scored, which suggests that this game will not be a goal-fest.
While Saudi Arabia’s matches usually end in larger scores, these two teams should be competitive with each other, and so the game will be a hard fought battle and won on fine margins.
One thing these two countries have in common is they regularly find themselves on the scoresheet.
In five of Russia’s last eight games, they have found the back of the net. Only games against Brazil, Austria and Portugal – all teams who are at a higher level – did they not register a goal.
Saudi, similarly, have scored in six of their last eight games, showing they have the attacking prowess to damage teams. While the level of opposition might not be the same, they are likely to create good chances in front of goal – it is just a matter of taking them.
Russia are a team who notoriously play on the edge of legality. Stanislav Cherchesov’s men have picked up eight yellow cards in their last nine games – a theme that continues to run deep in the squad. This is why over 1.5 cards to be awarded to Russia looks like a banker.
The hosts’ main asset is Krasnodar striker Fedor Smolov. The 28-year-old scored 14 in 24 appearances last season for his club, while also contributing six assists. His record for his country reads 12 goals in 32 appearances, which is a respectable tally.
It is why Russia’s hopes are firmly with Smolov, who will be likely to ease the pressure by scoring against Saudi.
The Arab state might not be blessed with stars across the pitch, but captain Taisir Al-Jassim has been a reliable player for them who has been a constant source of goals for Saudi.
Al-Jassim, who plays his club football for Al-Ahli, was one of the main contributor’s to Saudi’s qualification for Russia, and found himself on the scoresheet in their most recent friendly against Germany.
With manager Juan Antonio Pizzi’s 4-1-4-1 formation, Al-Jassim plays in a more advanced role, enabling him to move forward and get into goal-scoring positions.
Add my five selections together and the #PriceItUp Builder market comes in at a tasty-looking 194/1 , which looks like great value.
#PriceItUp Builder – Russia v Saudi Arabia:
Match Under 2.5 Goals
Both Teams to Score (Yes)
Russia Over 1.5 Cards
Taisir Al Jassim to score 1+ goals
Fedor Smolov to score 1+ goals 194/1