Day 1 of the 2018 World Cup gave us a better than perfect start for the hosts, Russia, who amid low expectations and poor results over the last few years, thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 (including a Denis Cheryshev brace) to give themselves a very big head start in Group A.
Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0
What can we say about this match? Despite the 5 goals, we’re not convinced Russia can do much damage in this World Cup. They made their most of a truly weak, disorganized and unqualified opponent, one that looks every bit as undeserving to be in this tournament as the weakest teams in World Cup history. No players in European leagues (almost none) and a head coach without any significant time or past achievements to turn this group into something worthwhile.
Cheryshev and Aleksandr Golovin reigned supreme in the midfield, making the most of every mistake the Saudis made in their own half, and they made a lot. Combine that with superior fitness and size, and you can see why the Russian ran rampant against a team that continues to look almost helpless every time they’ve been to the tournament, except for that one shining moment of 1994.
Hero of the match: Golovin. Two assists and one goal give the 22-year old who might be on his way to Juventus a few more figures to his price tag and salary. Russia still don’t look great in build up, but as far as having a dynamic and smart midfielder to capitalize on opponents mistakes, they don’t have to worry.
Goal of the match: Cheryshev. His first goal and Russia’s second was a clever dummy by the man who came on the pitch for the injured Alan Dzagoev. Once a Real Madrid hopeful, now a meaningless player for Villarreal, he took care of two Saudi defenders with that feint, leading to another easy goal for Russia – not the first nor the last of the match.
Group A Table
2 goals: Denis Cheryshev (Russia)
1 goal: Artem Dzyuba, Yuri Gazinsky, Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)
Day 2 Matches:
Egypt vs Uruguay (Group A)
Morocco vs Iran (Group B)
Portugal vs Spain (Group B)