Russian Federation thump Saudi Arabia in World Cup opener

Esequiel Farfan
Junio 15, 2018

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov said he received a congratulatory call from President Vladimir Putin after the World Cup hosts pummelled Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament's opening match on Thursday.

Although their World Cup record marks them out as one of the most consistent qualifiers from the Asian Football Confederation, the Saudis have not won a game at the finals since securing victories against Belgium and Morocco at United States of America '94 and had failed to score in five of their last six games at the tournament before this fixture in Moscow.

Russian Federation dominated in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,011 - and millions more on TV - at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium and also overcame a major blow when forward Alan Dzagoev had to limp off midway through the first half with what appeared to be left hamstring injury.

Russian Federation made light work of the fixture and the result was surely to their esteemed leader Vladimir Putin's taste as he called the head coach Stanislav Cherchesov midway through his post-match press conference to congratulate him on a super win.

For the time in World Cup history, there will be Video assistant referees to help make officiating calls.

Cities such as Saransk were sleepy outposts with decaying buildings until the World Cup reconstruction put them firmly in the 21st century. France boast possibly the most talented squad while Lionel Messi is desperate to make amends for Argentina's defeat in the 2014 final.

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The money lavished on the tournament will boost Putin's already sky-high prestige at home by giving numerous 11 host cities their first facelifts in generations.

There's plenty of football left to be played before a victor is declared in Russian Federation, but there's a chance the most memorable image of the tournament has already been captured. The bloody beating English fans took from almost 200 Russian thugs at Euro 2016 in France has influenced preparations as much as any diplomatic dispute.

Russia's fans will not care about that after enduring a wretched run of seven games without a win but they will be aware that the Asian qualifiers look desperately ill-equipped to trouble Egypt or group favourites Uruguay, who meet tomorrow, and that there is still much to be done for the hosts to secure progress to the knockout stage.

Portugal vs. Spain, 2 p.m. He had angered his federation by taking the job of Real Madrid manager. He had to pull out of Euro 2016 with a broken foot after picking up the injury playing for CSKA Moscow.

Russian Federation meet Egypt in their next match on Jun 19 in Saint Petersburg, while Saudi Arabia will look to rebound against group favourites Rostov-on-Don a day later.

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