World Cup 2018, Russia 5-0 Saudi Arabia: 3 key battles that decided the game
It looks like we might have underestimated just how bad Saudi Arabia are, as Russia blew their way past them 5-0 in the inaugural match of the WC 2018, held at the Luzhniki stadium.
Saudi Arabia were in it for the first 10 odd minutes, and once Gazinsky headed the first goal in, the difference between the two sides escalated to unimaginable levels, and was topped by 2 goals (1 from Cheryshev and 1 from Golovin) in injury-time to add insult to the Falcon's injury.
Considering the shambolic defense, it is hard to see the Saudi Arabian team getting any point in the group. On the other hand, 5 goals might be the difference between Russia finishing in the second place or the third, if they can hold Egypt in their match.
As usual, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the outcome of the fixture. Here's a look at 3 of them:
#1 Aleksandr Golovin vs Mohammed Al-Burayk
Aleksandr Golovin was expected to be the star of the Russian team, and the youngster lived up to his enormous hype and was clearly the best player on the pitch. He got his name on everything - 2 assists, a free-kick goal and even a yellow card to go with it.
On the team sheet, Golovin might feature on the left, but he was everywhere on this night - he was on the right to retrieve the ball to set up Russia's second goal, he was in the box to cross the ball for Dzyuba's header, he was there to knock the ball past a hapless Al-Mayoof for the last kick of the game.
Al-Burayk was as slow and as poor as the rest of his defensive backline and it will not be fair to point him out as the sole defender destroyed by Golovin. The 22-year-old ran circles around everyone on the Saudi team, and his value on the market might have just shot up by a couple of millions.