Jose Mourinho says the Russian team will be under “huge pressure” when they open their home World Cup against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on Thursday, but has backed the hosts to come away with a win.
Russia and Saudi Arabia kick off the World Cup in their Group A match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The hosts head into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team, having slipped to 70th in the FIFA rankings – three places below the Saudis.
Stanislav Cherchesovs team are also without a win in seven games – although Mourinho still believes that can overcome the Saudis, led by manager Juan Antonio Pizzi.
“Huge pressure for Russia,” Manchester United manager Mourinho exclusively told RT in his role as a special guest pundit.
“They start the World Cup at home, the world is watching them, its a big chance to qualify, to beat a Saudi Arabia team, that despite some good young talent is a naïve team, is a team from a different reality, and Russia has to win it.”
Russians will be hoping Mourinho is proved right, and that the World Cup party starts with a welcome win for the hosts.