Fri, Jun 15, 11:49am by Staff Writer
Russia and Saudi Arabia opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday morning, and it was the host nation who had an unexpectedly commanding 5-0 victory.
The two lowest ranked teams in the FIFA World rankings were tasked with opening the month-long festival of football, with the Russians not disappointing.
A Yuri Gazinskiy goal in the 12th minute opened the scoring, before Dens Cheryshev scored just before half-time to give the Russians a match-winning lead.
Saudi Arabia did not manage a shot on target all match and created few chances. A late onslaught by the hosts saw three goals in the final 20 minutes to seal the result, and leave them with a wonderful goal difference and start to the tournament.
Russia are now $101 to win the World Cup and play Egypt next Wednesday morning. Saudi Arabia take on Uruguay next Thursday as $31 underdogs.
This weekend’s matches are headlined by France and Australia meeting in Kazan on Saturday night.
Les Bleus are huge favourites for the match at $1.25 and justifiably so. They are one of the most feared teams at the World Cup and have the talent across the park to really test the Socceroos.
Never fearing an underdog tag, the Socceroos are $12 outsiders and the draw is paying $6. A point could be crucial for the Socceroos here, but it is difficult to see them curtailing the French attack.
The Draw/France half-time/full-time market at $4 or France to win to nil at $1.91 look the plays in this match, as the head-to-head price is rather short.
The French will want to hit this game all systems running, and it will be interesting to see if Bert van Marwijk decides to sit players behind the ball or play an expansive style.
2014 finalists Argentina open their campaign against Iceland on Saturday night as $1.33 favourites. The European minnows are paying $11.
Featuring in their second successive major tournament and after a wonderful Euro 2016 campaign where they eliminated England, Iceland will hold no fears when they take on the South American powerhouse.
Argentina has experienced defenders to curtail Iceland’s attack which will be led by Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Iceland has a chance of progressing to the knockout rounds, but this will be their most difficult test in the group stage. Argentina have more attacking options, with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero world class, and on the big stage they have been shown to deliver, with Aguero as an anytime goal scorer a well-priced option in this match at $2.
Peru is appearing in its first World Cup since 1972, with the football-mad nation bringing over 60,000 fans to Russia for the tournament. They are sure to provide a wonderful atmosphere on Sunday morning as they take on Denmark.
The South Americans are $3.25 underdogs with Denmark priced at $2.40.
Peru received a huge boost before the tournament, as their best playere Paolo Guerrero has received a freeze on his 14-month ban for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine.
The news is wonderful for Peru, with Danish coach Age Hareide identifying Guerrero as Peru’s star player.
Peru are unbeaten in their past 15 games, with Denmark having a good record at World Cup level, reaching the knockout stages in three of its four previous appearances.
In an upset, we are backing Peru to win this match at $3.25, as it is hard to ignore their recent form.
Croatia are a dark-horse in this World Cup and open their campaign as $1.67 favourites against Nigeria.
Nigeria are paying $5.50 and made headlines prior to the tournament for their eye-catching Nike jersey which has sold out across the globe.
This is the first match between the two sides, with Croatia’s only other match against African opposition being a 4-0 win against Cameroon at the 2014 World Cup.
Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho are the two players in Nigeria’s squad, which can bring flair and creativity to the front third, while Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel will set plays up in the midfield.
Croatia has more threatening players across the park, led by Luka Modric. They should be able to take care of Nigeria in a high-scoring and free-flowing match, where the over 2.5 goals looks the play at $2.20.
FIFA World Cup Weekend Odds – Sportsbet
France $1.25 Draw $6 Australia $12
Argentina $1.33 Draw $5 Iceland $11
Peru $3.25 Draw $3.10 Denmark $2.40
Croatia $1.67 Draw $3.60 Nigeria $5.50
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