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Hosts Russia open the 2018 World Cup against Saudi Arabia on Thursday (4pm GMT) knowing a win will be their best chance of making it out of Group A.

The Russians have been written off as one of the weakest World Cup hosts ever and will want to begin the tournament with a win with two trickier fixtures ahead of them against group favourites Uruguay and and Egypt side inspired by Liverpool sensation Mohamed Salah.

However, in West Ham transfer target Fedor Smolov and Manchester United transfer target Aleksandr Golovin they are not completely devoid of quality while they do not lack for experience at the back.

Our unique algorithm has predicted the Russia side it believes will start the game.

Football Whispers uses data to predict teams’ starting XIs, taking into account injuries, suspensions, and the statistical likelihood of a player being selected. The widget can also show you players' recent form and stats.

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World Cup 2018

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