There are few expectations that Thursday's World Cup opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia will be a showpiece example of the sport with the match to be played between a home team forced to implore a skeptical public to believe and an opponent that is nobody's idea of glamorous.

But on Wednesday both coaches showed that, at least for them, there is no more significant moment.

"We believe that the only way that we can achieve success is to really focus on each of the matches that we have to play, and right now, the only thing on my mind is the game against Russia," said the Saudi's Argentinean coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

"I believe that Russia is the most difficult team we are going to play."

For his part, Russia's manager Stanislav Cherchesov seems to have decided to approach the match with the idea that it will be alright on the night.

"It takes (Russians) a long time to start driving, but when we press our foot on the pedal, we go all the way. Once the whole thing begins, everything will fall into place," he said.

Stylistically, the 80,000-odd people who will be lucky enough to watch the match at Luzhniki Stadium might be in for a dour affair.

Russia enters the match having won just one of their last 10 -- six losses and three draws -- and in the four friendlies the team has played since late March, they have given up eight goals and scored just two.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia has been in underwhelming form.

The team has three wins, four losses and a draw in friendlies they have played since Pizzi took charge in November 2017, and since late May, have strung together three straight losses, giving up seven goals and only scoring two.

So if a goal-fest is unlikely to be on the cards, what can a World Cup-hungry world expect?

Russia, a physical team with few potent attacking options, will, according to Gracenote Sports, face the tournament's shortest squad, and Pizzi said he expects them to use their dominance in the air to their advantage.

"We know perfectly well how Russia is going to try to play against us and we are going to capitalize, we are going to use all our tools, so that we can counteract the Russian team and how dangerous they might be," he said.

When on the ball, Russia's veteran attacking midfielder Alexander Samedov said the Middle Eastern team will look hold possession, something that has become more of a feature for them since Pizzi took over from Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, a manager known for a more direct style.

"They are a very technically minded team, they like to hold the ball and our objective is not to let them keep the ball which is something we are going to try to do," Samedov said at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

For Pizzi, the key seems to lie in his players tapping into a combative streak.

He said he wants the team to compete for every single ball, to take a winning approach that allows them to impose a physicality on the game.

"We always try to have the same style, and that is to take pragmatic (approach), and we are going to try to do that tomorrow as well," he said.

"Another fact, and this is true for each of our rivals, each opponent has different options, different alternatives. And we have to try to counter those or capitalize on them."

(Saudi players)

For Russia, the battle seems to be as much with themselves as with Saudi Arabia, or the other teams in Group A -- Egypt and Uruguay.

A team official told Kyodo News earlier in the week that nobody knows what Cherchesov is going to do, in team selections or anything else, and he was indeed giving nothing away one day ahead of the match.

Defender Sergei Ignashevich, is a "cementing factor both on and off the pitch," he said, and midfielder Daler Kuzyaev has "improved considerably," but there was no indication either would play.

"I am often asked who is going to play in the starting lineup. I said many times, we play modern football and we have our own national team and our lineup will be shown tomorrow in the game. Tomorrow Kuzyaev stands as much as a chance to be in the starting 11 as anyone."

As for the persistent negativity, even antipathy, about his team, Cherchesov had a cryptic answer as to its root.

"Whether we like it or not, (the foreign media) would be hard pressed to find your way in the labyrinth of the Russian soul."

"I think half the country will find out that we have a World Cup in our country after the whistle blows."