We’ve sharing this Saudi Arabia Preview: World Cup 2018 to offer our analysis about the team that’s nicknamed The Green Falcons.

Saudi Arabia Preview: World Cup 2018

Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Assaf Al-Karny, Mohamed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Musailem

Defenders: Abdullah Al-Mayuf, Mansour Al-Harby, Yasser Al-Shahrany, Mohamed Al-Breik, Said Al-Muwalad, Motaz Hawsawi, Ossam Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Mohamed Jahfali

Midfielders: Ali Al-Buhaili, Abdallah Al-Khaibari, Abdelmarek Al-Khaibari, Abdallah Otayf, Taiseer Al-Jassem, Hussein Al-Mafhawy, Soliman Al-Faraj, Nawaf Al-Abd, Mohamed Kano, Hattan Bahbary, Mohamed Al-Kowaikaby

Forwards: Salem Al-Dawsari, Yehia Al-Shahry, Fahd Al-Muwalad, Mohamed Al-Sahlawy, Muhannad Asiri

  • Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi
  • Captain: Osama Hawsawi
  • Best Finish: Round of 16 (1994)

Likely starting lineup

Saudi Arabia Preview: World Cup 2018

Analysis

Of all the sides heading to the 2018 World Cup, the casual fan probably knows the least about Saudi Arabia. Although in fairness, those who follow the team closely face something of an unknown going into this summer too.

After all, this is a team that’s undergone plenty of changes since they confirmed their spot at the finals. Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi only just took charge in November 2017. As a result, the Green Falcons have yet to play a competitive game under his watch.

In qualifying they were overseen by Bert van Marwijk and sought to play a counter-attacking style. Their strength will primarily remain on defense but under Pizzi we’ve seen a shift in style to some degree. Saudi Arabia have clearly sought to look after the ball a little better.

There’s talent in the squad to do so, most notably in the attacking midfield positions, where Salem al-Dawsari, Yahya al-Shehri and Fahad al-Muwallad are expected to lineup.

There’ll also be an expectation on Mohammad al-Sahlawi to add some ruthlessness in attack. The Green Falcons are not likely to create too many opportunities in their group matches, making it imperative they’re converted; the forward has netted 28 times in 38 matches for his country.

Given they aren’t in the most difficult of groups, there’s every chance Pizzi’s team can spring a shock or two in one of their three games. They’ve shown enough to suggest they shouldn’t be taken lightly in qualifying, yet there’s no denying they are the weakest of the four teams in Group A.

 

Key Man – Osama Hawsawi

Saudi Arabia Preview: World Cup 2018While Saudi Arabia fans would love to see their team pile forward and pull opponents apart with slick attacking football, there are likely to be long spells in every game when they are pinned back. It’s why Hawsawi has such an important role to play in this side.

The Al-Hilal star has turned out a whopping 134 times for his country and has developed into a thoroughbred leader. He may not boast the finesse of some of the competition’s best centre-backs, but in terms of aggression and commitment, few will show more than Hawsawi.

Given the recently increased onus to play out from the back, Hawsawi will be expected to use the ball well. But his job in Russia will be to defend, and we’ve seen down the years he’s very capable of doing that.

 

Saudi Arabia’s Group Stage fixtures

Thursday, June 14

Russia vs. Saudi Arabia (opening game), 11am, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Wednesday, June 20

Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia, 11am, FOX, Telemundo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

Monday, June 25

Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt, 10am, FS1, Universo, Sling Blue and fubo (7-day free trial)

 

Saudi Arabia’s path to the final

If Saudi Arabia wins Group A, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group B which will either be Spain, Morocco, Iran or Portugal. If Saudi Arabia wins that Round of 16 game, The Green Falcons will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against either the winner of Group C (either France, Australia, Peru, Denmark) or the team that finishes second in Group C (Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria or Croatia). If Saudi Arabia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that pitted the winner of E1 vs. F2 against the winner of G1 vs. H2.

If Saudi Arabia finishes second in Group A, The Green Falcons will play the team that finishes first in Group B (either Spain, Morocco, Iran or Portugal). If Saudi Arabia wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against whoever is victorious between the winner of Group D (either Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria or Iceland) and the team that finishes second in Group C (either France, Australia, Peru or Denmark). If Saudi Arabia advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that pitted the winner of F1 vs. E2 against the winner of H1 vs. G2.

 

SEE MORE:

• Previews for all 32 World Cup teams
• World Cup Bracket (free download)
• World Cup groups
• World Cup TV schedule

 

Saudi Arabia World Cup shirt (home)

 

Saudi Arabia World Cup shirt (away)

 

If you have any questions about the Saudi Arabia Preview: World Cup 2018, please let us know in the comments section below.