The hosts haven’t got much to show for their seven years of planning.
They have an average manager in Stanislav Cherchesov, who was a goalkeeper in Russia’s World Cup squads in 1994 and 2002, and a group of players that lacks star quality.
They qualified automatically so their only competitive fixtures have been in the Confederations Cup last year and they went out at the group stage of that.
It would take every bit of home advantage they can muster to get through this group.
Goalkeeper-captain Igor Akinfeev is their best player but recent retirements and long-term injuries, particularly in central defence, leaves them vulnerable to conceding too many goals to make an impact.
It’s been pure chaos since they qualified so nobody really knows what to expect.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk was replaced by Edgardo Bouza, who was then sacked and replaced by Chilean Juan Antonio Pizzi, who will take charge for a competitive match the first time at the tournament.
In January nine of Saudi’s players joined Spanish League teams on loan, none of them kicking a ball.
They are the lowest ranked team to qualify and have got this far by good organisation and speedy wingers.
Centre-back Osama Hawsawi, who has over 130 caps to his name, is the skipper and by far the most experienced player.
Chances are that no-one in the squad will have ever played a club match outside his home nation.
Their hopes dived when Mo Salah damaged his shoulder in the Champions League Final.
But Salah is currently undergoing intensive treatment and don’t underestimate his determination to be there. He knows this could be a one-time-only deal.
Without the Liverpool man Egypt will struggle to achieve the second spot they’re aiming for.
Manager Hector Cuper, their Argentinian coach, is experienced and pragmatic and sees himself as more of a teacher of footballing students.
His philosophy is very defensive and may be even more so if there’s no Salah.
At 45, keeper and skipper Essam El-Hadary is likely to become the oldest player ever to play at a World Cup.
The hot favourites to win the group, this is probably the last chance of World Cup glory for stars like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Suarez, in particular, will want to erase memories of his last World Cup when he was sent home from Brazil in disgrace after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chellini. He needs to keep a cool head.
Manager Oscar Tabarez suffers from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition that affects the nervous system and necessitates him using a wheelchair or crutches.
After being given such a favourable group draw he’ll be looking for at least a quarter-final spot.
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