FIFA WC 2018: Russia host Saudi in tournament opener; Top 5 players
Sports Desk: Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the season opener of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia on Thursday. Russia as the host nation will have the crowd behind there back and this will be an interesting encounter to watch.
The world's focus will be on the Russian capital, and especially the Luzhinki Stadium. It is here, in this magnificent stadium, that the most important sporting event in 2018 - the Opening Match of the World Cup - will bring together Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The quadrennial month-long event will see 32 nations, divided into eight groups, competing in 64 games over 32 days and fighting it out for the coveted trophy.
Both teams are ready for this confrontation! Are you as excited as we all are? But before the footballing madness kicks-off, have a look at the top 5 players of the match
Osama Hawsawi (Saudi Arabia)
Osama Hawsawi has 135 international caps to his name and his experience on the international stage will be essential for Saudi Arabia. He's a seasoned Saudi player and will be a key player in this encounter.
Fyodor Smolov (Russia)
Russia needs to score goals if they want to get into the knockout phase of the tournament. Krasnodar striker Fyodor Smolov could be the go-to man for Russia in that case. The 28-year-old boasts 52 goals from his last three seasons in Russia's top flight and has reportedly attracted Premier League interest.
Mohamed Al-Sahlawi (Saudi Arabia)
Striker Mohamed Al-Sahlawi, who plays his football for Al-Nassr is a prolific scorer who can put the ball away in a variety of ways. Now, he isn't a world beater by any imagination, but he's a hard-working player who doesn't need much space to make an impact.
Fahad Al-Muwallad (Saudi Arabia)
Fahad Al-Muwallad is a young winger and had such a promising start to his career that European clubs were interested in him, having joined Levante this year on loan. But he has found chances hard to come by in Spain, so whether he has had enough minutes to be a starter remains to be seen. If he can play, he can do some serious damage.
Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)
Golovin is the youngest member of the squad at just 22 years of age. He has already proved himself vital to the team’s attack. The agile midfielder is a typically modern player who loves to play in a free role, often dropping deep into midfield or drifting into centre-forward. He has an excellent long shot and could curl a beauty into the back of the net at any point in the game.