(CBS Sports) - The 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thursday as host Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. It's the opener of the tournament, which means it'll probably be the most watched game involving these two teams in Group A. The host nation and Saudi Arabia will battle for three vital points, with the group's second match between Uruguay and Egypt arriving on Friday on a three-match day.
Winning the first match you play is key if you are to move on, and the pressure is on Russia to deliver in front of its home crowd in Moscow.
Russia enters the match in full strength but has yet to win a friendly in 2018, with two of the matches coming against Brazil and France. Will all the tests pay off in the opener?
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, played well in a 2-1 loss to Germany last week and is confident it can get something in this game, with a draw being a quality result. Nobody on the team will be more hungry to deliver than coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who failed to guide Chile to qualification to the World Cup but still managed to make the tournament himself after landing the Saudi gig in November.