Russia gets its home World Cup underway, and its opening draw is a kindly one: the long shots Saudi Arabia.
• Refresh here for live updates and analysis from the 2018 World Cup opener in Russia.
How to watch: In the United States, Fox has the broadcast at 11 a.m. Eastern, but you can stream it here.
• Need some help? Here’s a breakdown of all 32 teams
Russia vs. Saudi Arabia Top Story Lines
• Home teams have tended to do well in the World Cup. But such is Russia’s world ranking (only 70th, behind Albania) and recent form (1-2 in the Confederations Cup, a friendly loss to Austria) that hopes are not high. Russia may not even make it out of a fairly weak group that contains Uruguay and Egypt, much less threaten to win the overall title as six host teams have done.
• On the other hand, Russia is opening up against Saudi Arabia, by acclamation the weakest team in the tournament, offered at odds of 1000-1 or more. A 3-0 friendly drubbing by Peru earlier this month was not propitious.
• Russia’s goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, is 32 and has been playing for Russia since he was 18. But he has always been considered below the best net-minders in Europe. A lifer at CSKA Moscow, he is the kind of player who turns up in the early stages of the Champions League and disappears before the real games start.