Russia just vanquished Saudi Arabia’s side in front of the entire world.
That’s right, five.
I’m not sure what I even watched. I think it’s the second largest margin of victory in Cup history after a 1934 loss by the United States to Italy to the tune of 7-1.
So, is Russia that good or is Saudi Arabia, Asia’s #3 ranked team, that poor?
Hint: it’s not option A.
Saudi Arabia was flat out atrocious today. I was clicking my tongue in disgust and shaking my head like my great-grandmother watching them play. I should put ‘play’ in quotes because they never got out of park. Goal after goal saw Russia catching both defenders and the KSA goalkeeper flat-footed.
The first goal by Russia did nothing to raise the stakes for KSA. They seemed content to just be worn down by the 80,000 hometown fans without rising to the challenge.
It was 2-nil at halftime, and still the Saudis played with no urgency. They seemed comfortable with trying ill-planned tight-quarter passing drills in neutral turf only to ultimately just give the ball away with errors over and over again.
They came back from what must have been the least effective halftime speech ever and resolved to play like Eeyore going through a spanking machine. At 3-0, a denigrating, humiliating score, the Saudi team still didn’t feel the need to play ‘defense’.
The 4th goal by Russia was a beautifully placed shot by fuckboi-haircutted Denis Cheryshev (his second of the day) that soared over Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf.
Al-Mayouf is going to have PTSD after this game. The Saudis couldn’t even set up a proper wall to prevent a run-of-the-mill direct kick to be bent around it for a fifth bone-crushing goal.
In extra time, no less.
The cherry on top.— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 14, 2018
Russia get a decisive 5-0 win in the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. pic.twitter.com/GHyOoBLDIY
That lack of position falls entirely on Al-Mayouf, whose responsibility it is to set the wall wide enough so that the type of shot that scored isn’t even possible. He was a sieve today in net. If he played in South America, I’d fear for his life after a performance like this.
The loss was a resounding condemnation of the internal Saudi league, which funnels players to the national squad. They had nothing. I don’t even remember the Russian keeper ever fielding a single shot. I mean, he may have at some point, but I was probably doing more interesting things by that point, like yawning or watching coffee brew.
My heart goes out to Saudi Arabian fans who had to watch their team get thumped like that on the biggest stage in the world. It was ugly football. Devoid of the chemistry and skill and poetry that make The Beautiful Game beautiful.
Russia took advantage of the void left by the mannequin-like Saudi side, and they deserve credit for that. In many cases, they were either wide open or used body position in a way that should be prohibitive at this level, but they finished when they needed to. Five times. Five. Goals. In international play.
With that win, and the impressive and decisive margin of victory, Russia gives themselves a fantastic chance of progressing to the knockout round.
Tomorrow, the World Cup really kicks into high gear with Egypt vs Uruguay, Morocco vs Iran, and then the premiere hot dog screamer match-up between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Spain.