Russia and Saudi Arabia are the lowest ranked countries in the latest FIFA ranking, placing 70 and 67 in the month of June.
Russia is hoping to be the 22 host nation to avoid a defeat in their opening World Cup game when they face Saudi Arabia. (The 2002 World Cup saw Korea and Japan, emerge as the first co-hosts of a single tournament, making the host nations 21 in 20 editions).
Russia and Saudi Arabia have faced off once. The Asians won the bragging rights when they defeated, the hosts of the 2018 World Cup 4-2 in an international friendly in October 1993.
Russia qualified as hosts, which, considering their travails on the pitch was probably the only they were making this edition of the tournament and Saudi Arabia on the other hand booked a place in Russia after placing second in group B of the Asia qualifiers.
Russia played under the name USSR from 1930 to 1990, during the period they qualified for eight FIFA World Cups and placed fourth in the 1966 tournament which is their best finish in the Mundial’s history. Russia have participated in three World Cups, since USSR broke up in 1990, making it a total of 11 appearances.
They last played in the World Cup in 2002
While Saudi Arabia have participated in the Mundial on four occasions. Their best finish came in 1994 when they reached the round of 16 in their maiden World Cup appearance.
The Asians made their last appearance in 2006.
Hosts Russia are 70, whereas Saudi Arabia are 67 in the latest FIFA ranking.
Russia are winless in their last five games at the World Cup (D2, L3). Their only two victories at the World Cup as an independent nation were against African teams (6-1 versus Cameroon in 1994 and 2-0 against Tunisia in 2002).
While, Saudi Arabia are winless in their last 10 games at the World Cup, losing eight of them, since beating Belgium 1-0 in 1994.
Mohammed Al-Sahlawi is the talisman of the Saudi Arabia team, scoring 16 goals in qualifying – the joint-most of any player, although eight of those came in two games against Timor-Leste.
Whereas, Fedor Smolov who briefly turned out for Feyenoord in 2011, has been prolific since moving to the Krasnodar Stadium in 2015, where he has hit 52 goals in 73 league games.
He has amassed 12 goals in 31 appearances for the national team is the player the Russian will be looking up to.