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Smolov up front for Russia in World Cup opener

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Fedor Smolov will line up as a lone striker for Russia as the World Cup hosts attempt to end a seven-match winless run in the opening game of the tournament against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on Thursday.

The Krasnodar forward will be supported by Aleksandr Golovin and Alexander Samedov out wide as Russia bid to win a World Cup game for the first time since 2002.

Saudi Arabia return to the tournament after a 12-year absence and are the second-lowest ranked side in the competition at 67th in the world, three places above Russia.

Saudi coach Juan Antonio Pizzi will hope Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, who bagged a staggering 16 goals in qualifying, can snap a nine-game scoring drought in Russia.

Starting line-ups for the opening match of the World Cup between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia in Group A in Moscow on Thursday (1500 GMT kick-off):

Russia (4-2-3-1)

Igor Akinfeev (capt); Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kupetov, Sergey Ignashevich, Yury Zhirkov; Iury Gazinsky, Roman Zobnin; Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Golovin, Alexander Samedov; Fedor Smolov

Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov (RUS)

Saudi Arabia (4-5-1)

Abdullah Al-Muaiouf; Osama Hawsawi (capt), Omar Hawsawi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani; Salman Al-Faraj, Yahia Al-Shehri, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Al-Jassam, Salem Al-Dawsari; Mohammed Al-Sahlawi

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi (ESP)

Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG)

The post Smolov up front for Russia in World Cup opener appeared first on Vanguard News.

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