World Cup predictions Day 1: Russia vs. Saudi Arabia

It's finally here! The World Cup kicks off on Thursday and throughout the whole tournament our team of experts from around the globe will pit their wits against each other and try and predict the result of every match.

We've got our top talent on hand from England, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Australia and Africa -- many of whom will be based out in Russia for the tournament -- to analyse each and every one of the 64 matches.

But don't forget you too can get involved in predicting the scorelines, along with a whole host of other things such as the Golden Boot winner and which nations will advance from each group. Just sign up for the ESPN Match Predictor, make your selections and then invite your friends to join your group to find out who is the ultimate World Cup king.

There's just the one game on the opening day of the tournament as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia.... and not one of our pundits is giving the Asian visitors a hope of victory. That said, Mark Ogden, Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and Rafa Ramos reckon they might sneak a point.

We'll score our experts just as we do in the Match Predictor -- 10 points for correct result, with a bonus 20 points for getting the scoreline right too. Will anyone get a full house on Thursday?


Well there were goals after all! Hosts Russia get off to a flying start with a surprisingly dominant 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Seven of our 11 pickers earn the 10 points for a Russian victory but none nab the 20-point bonus for an exact scoreline prediction -- Gab Marcotti and Herculez Gomez came closest at 2-0. It will be back to the drawing board for Mark Ogden, Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and Rafa Ramos who all projected a draw for the opener.

PLAY: ESPN FC's Match Predictor game, and get some tips here