Thursday evening will see the hosts Russia kick-off the month-long festival of football when they face Saudi Arabia in the opening fixture of the 2018 World Cup. The game is taking place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which is also the venue for the final on 15th July.

As they have not played a competitive fixture since their disappointment at Euro 2016, it is hard to assess Russia’s form heading into the finals, but warm-up friendlies have been disappointing. The home side have not won a game since October and their last two results have been a defeat to Austria and a draw with Turkey, neither of which have qualified for the tournament.

However, coach Stanislav Cherchesov will be hoping that his 23-man squad can reach new heights with the passionate home support that they will have behind them. Though, as shown in Tipbet’s season bets, Uruguay are big favourites to finish top of Group A, finishing second is likely to be a clear battle between Russia and Egypt, who face each other in game day two.

Saudi Arabia have the odds against them and are 39.0 to win Group A – doing so would represent one of the great World Cup upsets. Any chance of them reaching the last-16 is likely to hinge on winning in the opener, or at least securing a draw.

Though they beat Algeria and Greece in May, the Green Falcons’ last three results have all been losses – to Italy, Peru and Germany – and they will have to improve rapidly in the coming weeks if they are to emulate the 1994 World Cup when they advanced from the group stage. is the place for all your 2018 World Cup betting needs this summer and there are 100 markets for the opener.

Russia undoubtedly have the stronger squad and, coupled with the Moscow support, they are expected to comfortably claim an early three points – a home win is 1.45 with Tipbet. There are generous odds on both sides scoring; this is currently at 2.45.

There are, of course, plenty of other things to bet on, including the correct final scoreline and number of goals – view them all here.