Russia’s rout of Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean they’re any good

Russia’s rout of Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean they’re any good

A matchup of the two worst teams at this year’s World Cup was never going to make for a quality game, but Russia won’t care one bit as they walked away from the tournament opener with a 5-0 victory that gives them a chance of making the final 16.

Despite the lopsided result, the win proves little about Russia’s quality. In a frantic game in which both teams looked amateurish at times, Saudia Arabia turned in one of the worst defensive performances in recent memory and would’ve been punished even more harshly by a better side.

Still, there were some genuine positives for Russia. Denis Cheryshev, who came on as a substitute in the 24th minute, scored two great goals, including an absolutely beautiful curling effort in stoppage time at the end of the second that is likely to be one of the goals of the tournament.

The best player on the pitch, though, was central playmaker Aleksandr Golovin, who was rewarded for his offensive sparkle with a wonderful goal from a free kick just before the final whistle to cap off the scoring.

Normally, if you win your opener 5-0 in the World Cup, you’re a lock for the next round. But that’s not the case with Russia, whose two remaining games are against group favorites Uruguay and Egypt.

It’s hard to imagine Russia beating the vastly superior Uruguayans, but if they can get a draw with Egypt, whose best player, Mo Salah, is fresh off a serious shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final, they could scramble through to the next round.

It’s not a game likely to live on in the memory for anyone, but, again, Russia won’t mind one bit.

Goal of the Day

Cheryshev capped off his dream substitute performance with an absolutely shocking goal in the 90th minute. Aware that Saudi Arabia’s defenders were unlikely to challenge him, the attacker curled in a beautiful shot from the edge of the box with the outside of his left foot to put his team up four.

Tomorrow’s games

Egypt vs. Uruguay, 8 a.m.

A matchup of Group A’s best sides, Uruguay would be favored under the best of conditions, but with Salah uncertain to play, the Uruguayans should win with ease.

Morocco vs. Iran, 11 a.m.

Morocco vs. Iran isn’t much more attractive than Russia vs. Saudi Arabia. Still, Morocco will fancy their chances against an Iran team that still doesn’t know who will outfit it, and if they win by enough could challenge Portugal for a berth in the round of 16.

Portugal vs. Spain, 2 p.m.

The game of the day pits two of Europe’s more storied sides. Though Spain looked like the clear favorites earlier in the week, the firing of manager Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday, just one day after he announced he’d leave for Real Madrid at the end of the tournament, puts things in doubt.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz