2018 World Cup Preview – Saudi Arabia

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Having missed the last two World Cups, Saudi Arabia have had an interesting build up to this tournament, changing managers twice since qualifying in September.

Saudi Arabia World Cup Betting Markets

Stage of Elimination

  • Group Stage @ $1.04
  • Round of 16 @ $9.00
  • Quarter Final @ $41.00
  • Semi Final @ $101.00
  • Runners Up @ $251.00
  • Winners @ $1001.00

Draw

Group:

Saudi Arabia have been drawn in Group A alongside Russia, Uruguay and Egypt

Opponents:

Record vs Russia – W: 1, D: 0, L: 0

Last Meeting – 6 October 1993: Saudi Arabia def Russia 4-2

Record vs Uruguay – W: 1, D: 1, L: 0

Last Meeting – 10 October 2014: Saudi Arabia drew with Uruguay 1-1

Record vs Egypt – W: 1, D: 1, L: 6

Last Meeting – 14 March 2005: Saudi Arabia lost to Egypt 0-1

Schedule:

Friday 15th June – 1:00am – Saudi Arabia vs Russia

Thursday 21st June – 1:00am – Saudi Arabia vs Uruguay

Tuesday 26th June – 12:00am – Saudi Arabia vs Egypt

Group Ranking:

Saudi Arabia are long shots to even finish in second spot in their group as they take part for the first time in 12 years.

Installed as underdogs in each of their three games, their best chance of a win comes in the tournament opener however it gets much harder in their second outing against Uruguay.

Two losses could have them wiped out heading into the final game against Egypt.

Back Saudi Arabia to Win Group A @ $34.00

World Cup History

Number of Appearances

4 – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006

Best Performance

Round of 16 – 1994

Match Record & Goals Tally

Played: 13, Won: 2, Drawn: 2, Lost: 9

Scored: 9, Conceded: 32

2018 Qualifying Campaign

Made the World Cup by…

Saudi Arabia finished second in AFC Qualifying Group B giving them direct passage to Russia.

Qualifying Record & Goals Tally

Played: 10, Won: 6, Drawn: 2, Lost: 2

Scored: 17, Conceded: 10

Story to Watch

Saudi Arabia might take the title of most bizarre World Cup preparation after sacking two managers and sending some of their squad away on loan.

Bert van Marwijk left in September after getting the country to the World Cup and was replaced by Edgardo Bauza who lasted barely two months before being replaced with former Chilean boss Juan Antonio Pizzi (and that is it unless something changes in the next week).

Some of their key players will be underdone as well with January loan moves backfiring with the planned game time never eventuating.

Now we will just have to watch and see if the last nine months help or hinder the Saudis in Russia.

Saudi Arabia 2018 World Cup Squad

GOALKEEPERS

Mohammed Alowais, Yasser Almosailem, Abdullah Almuaiouf

DEFENDERS

Mansoor Alharbi, Yasser Alshahrani, Mohammed Alburyak, Motaz Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Othman, Ali Albulayhi

MIDFIELDERS

Abdullah Alkhaibari, Abdulmalek Alkhaibri, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Aljassam, Hussain Almoqahwi, Salman Alfaraj, Mohamed Kanno, Hatan Bahbir, Salem Aldawsari, Yahia Alshehri

FORWARDS

Mohammed Alsahlawi, Muhannad Asiri, Fahad Almuwallad

Strengths

As we have seen when they played Australia (and pipped them to an automatic qualifying spot) Saudi Arabia are a well organised squad and will do whatever it takes to get the result.

If they are to have any success in Russia they will need to ensure they are playing from in front or at least level as they will be able to close out games.

Weakness

How do they go away from home?

During the final stage of qualifying they registered four wins and a draw at home but did not travel all that well, with just two wins and three losses.

Russia is a bit of a trip from Saudi Arabia and we might have an idea with how they will cope with playing in a foreign environment early on.

Notable Absentees

Despite some players having interrupted preparation for this, this is on paper at least, their best available squad.

Key Player

Yasser Al-Mosailem

Expected to be one of the busier goalkeepers at the World Cup, Al-Mosailem will have his work cut out for him trying to keep Saudi Arabia in games.

With some top-class attackers in the group, Al-Mosailem could wind up facing the most shots despite likely featuring in just three games.

Final Prediction

Saudi Arabia’s best chance of getting a point comes in the opening game against Russia however hosts tend not to lose those games.

While they might put up a bit of a fight in that game it will be all down hill from there.

PREDICTION: GROUP STAGE

Best Bet: Back Saudi Arabia to Finish with 0 Points