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Russia-Saudi Arabia Match Report

4 Thoughts on the PetroKleptocracy Bowl: Not a bad opener, all things considered.

1) I'm happy for Russia, a thought I haven't had for over four years. Every country should have a chance to fall in love with its national team, and their lads--they're really too old in the tooth for that, but still--dominated the day and had three lovely goals out of the five. It was a clean game, free of hysterics and bad tackles, an orderly affair. They drifted a bit in the second half and are hardly a world beating team, but Ole! to the hosts!

2) Saudi Arabia looks the worst team to be in the World Cup in ages. Some speed and a few moments, especially by (#10) Al-Salwahi, but they will get demolished by everyone. A brighter chap than me would have looked at the Golden Boot in light of their porosity. At least they didn't totally give up. How they qualified is a mystery. Over Turkey, no less.

3) Golovin, at a mere 22, is a lovely player, the best I've seen from Russia since the talismanic Arshavin took us all by storm. He's got great touch, change of direction, and a beautiful sense for the perfectly weighted pass. He orchestrated three of the four goals that he didn't score (and that free kick is one that beats a lot of keepers). The drum was beating hard by halftime from Arsenal fans to bid up the offering to beat Juventus to the punch, though Juve is thought to have a deal in place. That could get very expensive soon (moneybags Chelsea's interested as well)--though you Gunners should know that the purse strings probably are never as long as you'd like from the tidy little business known as Arsenal, always a profiting outfit even as results decline. Wherever he ends up

, Golovin is the Prince of Russia today.

4) Finally, the Russian Coach Stanislav Cherchesov looks as if he has broken a few kneecaps in his time. A former goalkeeper. I doubt he gets much lip from his boys. Surely the victorious lads will surely get a bare-chested hug when Putin visits them in the steamroom. Today is their day.

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