first_imgAt last, World Cup 2018 is here and this afternoon sees host nation Russia take on Saudi Arabia in Moscow – the first time the two teams have clashed competitively.The stats and odds point towards a home win but this looks as tough as a self-assembly chest of drawers from IKEA without the instructions with so many imponderables.Will the history book repeat itself? The host nation have played the opening match in nine previous World Cups and NEVER lost. However, England (1966), Mexico (1970) and South Africa (2010) all drew their respective openers.Russia will also bid to become the seventh host nation to win the World Cup after Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), England (1966), Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and France (1998).The problem with the Russian side though is the Russian side. They simply come into the tournament in lacklustre form. It it was a horse you’d say they were running down their handicap mark for the big race but any backers today at circa 4/9 would surely want to see them showing a sparkle of better form? Russia have slipped to 70th in Fifa’s rankings, three places lower than Saudi Arabia.The opening games are traditionaly low scoring affairs and if you don’t think we are going to see World Cup goal number 2,380 this afternoon will lay you 7/1 about the 0-0 draw.I can’t be backing Russia at odds-on but think there’s an interesting angle in on bookings.As the first match of the tournament it will be interesting to see how lenient the referees are or whether there has been a edict to come down tough on discipline and set a precedent. The latter seems more likely.Argentina’s Nestor Pitana is the man with the whistle this afternoon and he, domestically at least, is keen to brandish the cards with an average of 4.8 yellows and 0.33 reds in 15 games this season. That’s a theoretical average of 56 points and whilst dangerous to make assumptions on a World Cup opener, on that basis alone, it does leave quite a lot of fat against market expectations.My other reason for cards is that there will be a host of expectation about Russia to win a game that (the betting says) they should win easily. I don’t reckon it WILL be that easy and frustration could well creep in.Russia v Saudi ArabiaFIFA World Cup 2018 Group Stage16:00 ITVHEAD TO HEAD RECORD(Maximum 10 matches)NEVER PLAYED COMPETITIVELY but Saudi Arabia won 4-2 at home in a friendly in October have a great sign-up offer for new customers which will reward you with £50 CASH if England get knocked out at the semi-final stage and a tournament long offer for ALL CUSTOMERS if you are winning at HT and lose at FT you’ll get paid out as a winner – click below for further details on both offers.For the opener I’m OVER 22.5 BOOKING POINTS at 4/9 and a small wager on a RED CARD at 15/4.CLICK HERE FOR LATEST STARSPORTS.BET MARKETRECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)BACK OVER 22.5 points BOOKINGS 25 points at 4/9 with starsports.betBACK RED CARD SHOWN 5 points at 15/4 with starsports.betPROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 163.53 pointslast_img

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