first_imgThe World Cup will finally get underway on Thursday afternoon with Russia set to face Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The game will be live on Joy 99.7 FM, with buildup from 2.45pm. Kickoff 3pm.Stanislav Cherchesov’s side, who qualified automatically for the tournament as hosts, have been handed a favorable draw, with Group A consisting of Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia qualified for its fifth World Cup as runner-up in Group B, finishing behind Japan but ahead of Australia on goal difference (although the Aussies did eventually qualify via the playoffs). Both sides will fancy their chances of securing an early and vital three points on Thursday, in the first encounter between the two nations. Recent Form Recorded last six gamesRussia: DLLLLLRussia heads into the tournament on the back of an awful run of form, having won just five of their last 26 games. The Russian Football Union had organised two pre-World Cup friendlies against Austria and Turkey in the hope that victories against either side would instil some confidence ahead of the tournament, but the Sbornaya fell to defeat against Austria and could only draw with Turkey. Saudi Arabia: LLLWWLSaudi Arabia’s recent form – or lack of it – may not look too dissimilar from their opponents, but the Green Falcons have showcased some impressive performances of late, most notably against Germany in their final World Cup friendly last Friday.  Unlike Russia, they’ve had the advantage of playing in competitive games. They recorded six wins and three losses from their 10 games in Group B, scoring 17 goals (the most along with Japan) and conceding 10 in the process.  Interesting FactThe hosts are the lowest FIFA ranked team heading into the tournament.Saudi Arabia were the lowest ranked team to qualify for the tournament, although they are now ranked 67th, three places above Russia. Team News Stanislav Cherchesov will be without two of his preferred centre backs in Georgy Dzhikiya, who tore his knee ligament in January, and Viktor Vasin, who suffered the same injury whilst playing for CSKA Moscow in February. Zenit St. Petersburg forward Alexander Kokorin will also be missing from Russia’s squad after he too tore a knee ligament back in March.*Joy Sports’ Russia team profileJoy Sports’ Saudi Arabia team profile *Follow the World Cup with the Multimedia Group! With live English radio commentary on Joy 99.7 FM radio, Akan radio commentary on Asempa 94.7 FM and livestreaming on, we’ve got you covered all-tournament long.last_img

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