Pizzi: Saudi Arabia needs ‘to recover from shameful situation’

Brunilde Fioravanti
Giugno 17, 2018

- AFP Russian soprano Aida Garifullina performs during the Opening Ceremony - AFP Performers take part in the ceremony before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

El Tri's form wasn't impressive heading into the World Cup, but they erased a lot of doubt on Sunday.

He lasted just 24 minutes of the opening game, limping off with a hamstring injury which may have tragically ended his tournament.

Aleksandr Golovin rounded off the scoring in second-half stoppage time with a superb free-kick from the edge of the box.

Meanwhile, Rafael Marquez entered the match late for Mexico, making him the third player in World Cup history to appear in five tournaments.

Saudi Arabia are led by coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, yet he faces an nearly impossible challenge of piecing together a team ready for World Cup action as most of his players are based in a domestic league that lacks quality.

Russian global Aleksandr Golovin said that his side's World Cup Group A opponents Egypt and Uruguay are strong teams.

Perhaps the hosts aren't quite as bad as has been feared.

Argentina fans look at a metro map for directions in downtown Moscow on June 14, 2018, ahead of the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup football tournament.

For Saudi Arabia it was a return to the global showpiece for the first time in 12 years, with their only previous finals wins at the 1994 World Cup.

The opening goal came soon after, as Saudi Arabia failed to clear a corner and a curling cross in from the left by Golovin picked out an unmarked Gazinsky to head low into the far corner.

One of the biggest issues they faced was the physical challenge against a much stronger and imposing Russian team.

With their squad all based in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia's lack of exposure to games against the elite is another problem they have to overcome to have any hope of competing at this level in the future.

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