Photo: Clive Rose (Getty)

Oof. We figured this Saudi Arabia team would be bad, the worst in the tournament even, but we didn’t expect that. Russia just curb stomped their Saudi opponents by a score of 5-0 in a beating even uglier in real life than it looks on paper.

Saudi Arabia played like they didn’t even know what they were doing. Which was great for Russia, since what they lack in truly elite players they make up for in ... legitimate professionals who appear to have played the sport more than a couple times before in their lives.


The guy who’ll grab the headlines is Denis Cheryshev, the former Real Madrid youth-teamer who entered the game thanks to an early Alan Dzagoev injury and tore shit up. He scored a two goals, both of which were the best of the match. The first was a cute little finish after bamboozling two Saudi defenders with a basic feint move that wouldn’t even fool any current Real Madrid youth-teamers:

His second was an outside-of-the-foot belter that also benefitted from some not even half-interested defending:


The real star though was midfielder Aleksandr Golovin. He dominated the game from the first minute to the literal final one, assisting two goals and getting one for himself at the very end of the match:

This is conclusive proof that Saudi Arabia are indeed terrible. Losing to a Russia team that hadn’t scored multiple goals in a single game since October of 2017 by five goals is like losing to an actually good team by 10. Maybe the funniest thing of all though is that this result tells us almost nothing about Russia’s true talent level. Nobody should be surprised if the Ruskies turn around and get bashed up by each of their next two opponents in the group. The World Cup has only just begun, and it’s already great—even if in a hilariously bad way.