One problem is that luckless striker Mohammed Alsahlawi is badly out of touch and without a goal in more than a year.
Pizzi’s team are suffering from a crisis in confidence when it comes to goalscoring and gave Igor Akinfeev – and 38-year-old CSKA Moscow colleague Sergey Ignashevich – little to worry about.
At the other end the man who’s just turned 22 – Golovin – made sure Russia could capitalise on all the mistakes the Saudis were making.
He assisted the opener for Krasnodar’s Iury Gazinsky. He prompted the second which Roman Zobnin eventually laid on for substitute Denis Cheryshev. He gave the pass for Artem Dzyuba’s third even if the stunning fourth was all the work of Cheryshev.
The fifth – from the boot of Golovin himself – will be recognised by Arsenal fans who saw him do the same thing for CSKA at the Emirates a few weeks back.
The only thing to sour Russia’s night was the bad injury suffered by Alan Dzagoev. The playmaker went down heavily clutching his hamstring and his tears suggest his World Cup is over before it’s really begun.
Plenty then for president Vladimir Putin to admire from the opening game. He sat in the VIP seats with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed.
There was a minor disagreement between Putin and the Prince when the first goal went in due to a perceived push in the build-up by Gazinky on his opponent. It wasn’t given and Prince Mohammed let Putin know what it thought.
But it was Russia’s night and Golovin’s night. Five goals, three points and one very happy nation.