FIFA World Cup 2018 kicked off in style in Russia as the host nation won in a convincing fashion against Saudi Arabia. Russia didn’t disappoint their fans who came out to support them in large numbers. In fact, fans played a big part in this big win against the ‘Green Falcons’. Russia wouldn’t have expected a better start than this by a score line 5-0 in the opening game of this grand event.
Russia suffered an early blow after Alan Dzageov was substituted due to an injury in the first half. Despite that Russia displayed a wonderful game and made their fans time worth with five goals and a clean sheet as well. This victory means that host nation has never lost their opening match at World Cup. Here are the five talking points from this opening game.
● ALEKSANDR GOLOVIN’S MAGIC AT MOSCOW:
Manchester United target Aleksandr Golovin caught everyone’s eyes with his impressive passing. The playmaker was rumored with a move away from CSKA Moscow with clubs like Juventus and Arsenal interested in his signature. Golovin’s cross gave the first goal for Russia after Gazinskiy headed into the net. He was also involved in the second goal by sprinting from midfield and gave a brilliant pass to Roman Zobnin, who laid it to Denis Cheryshev to double Russia’s lead. During the injury time Golovin got a goal for himself from the set piece just in front of the box. He impressed everyone with his curling ball into the net and was rewarded with a goal in the end.
● SUPER SUBSTITUTES DID IT FOR RUSSIA:
Alan Dzagoev got hamstring injury during first half and he was replaced by former Real Madrid winger, Denis Cheryshev. Denis was showing his pace from the start and was looking to get into that score sheet. Roman Zobnin’s ball to Denis Cheryshev was converted in style and celebrated his first goal for Russia. Later, during second half he was involved again in second half with a lethal shot over the right top corner. Al-Maiouf had no clue with that one as it was another goal to the substitute. Dzyuba came onto the pitch during second half as substitute and in no time he also found the net to make it 3-0 during 71st minute of the game. Stanislav Cherchesov’s substitutes all came off pretty well and was his day and joy for the entire nation.
● EXPLOITING THE MISTAKES MADE IN THE DEFENCE:
Saudi struggled to keep the possession and lost the ball in the main places and also gave Russians time to settle in. Defense made lot of mistakes and Captain Osama Hawsawi was struggling to make his defense in a proper position as Russians were brilliant in their counters. Green Falcons were trying to pass the ball around and every time when the ball goes up front and every time there was a Russian intercepting the ball leaving midfield open for counters. Defense made some big errors which costed them goals in the first place and Golovin had all his time in the world to produce some juicy crosses inside the box and Gazinskiy used one opportunity to find the net by finding himself space inside the penalty area. In the end, Russians exploited the faults made by Saudi Arabia’s defense.
● GREEN FALCONS’ BLUNTNESS IN ATTACK:
Saudi Arabia lacked completely up front with Fahad Al-Muwallad left out of the starting line up by Pizzi. The man from Spain didn’t start for Saudis and that was bizarre decision from former Chille coach. Salem Al-Dawsari looked threatening which was supported well from left-back by Yasir Al-Shahrani. Green Falcons completely struggled in the middle in creating some sparkles where Russians were eyeing for those counters and also converted some into goals as well. Al-Muwallad, the “Saudi Arabian Messi,” should have been brought in early but it was all too late as Russia came back with goals which made Saudis settle at the back. Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, main goal scorer also didn’t as expected as their playmakers failed to do as what Golovin did for his nation.
● ALAN DZAGOEV WILL BE MISSED:
Alan Dzagoev suffered an hamstring injury during the early minutes of the game and was replaced by Denis Cheryshev, who scored two goals after coming from the bench. Still we don’t know how serious it is but he was taken off and seen struggling with pain. Dzagoev caused some threats upfront in Saudis half in the early 20 minutes and sadly he was taken off. Denis Cheryshev showed that he was better replacement to Dzagoev as he scored a brace with brilliant goals and his debut goals for Russia as well. Winger needs to carry this form against Uruguay and Eygpt as well by replacing Alan Dzagoev. If this is a serious injury Russians will surely miss Alan Dzagoev in their attack and it is a pity too seeing players injured and leaving the tournament half way.
● PLAYER RATINGS :
Fernandes-5, Kutepov-5, Ignashevic-6, Zhirkov-5;
Gazinskiy-6, Zobnin-5, Samedov-5, Golovin-7;
Denis Cheryshev-7, Kuzyayev-6, Dyzuba-7;
○ SAUDI ARABIA:
Al Shahrani-4.5, Omar Hawsawi-4, Osama Hawsawi-4, Al-Berik-4;
Otayf-4, Al-Dawsari-4.5, Al-Faraj-4, Al-Jassim-4.5, Al-Shehri-4;
Bhabri-3.5, Fahad Al-Muwallad-4.5, Aseri-4;