World Cup Preview: Russia v Egypt

ANTALYA, TURKEY - AUGUST 30: Players of Russian National Team attend a training session prior to a friendly match against Turkey, in Antalya, Turkey on August 30, 2016. (Photo by Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia v Egypt in matchday two was always going to be interesting, but the storylines continue to pile up. First off, Russia looked like a force to be reckoned with against Saudi Arabia. Although the Arabians don’t particularly stand out in any area, the Russians made easy work of them. Egypt, on the other hand, were left heartbroken after conceding in the dying moments of their match versus Uruguay. They performed admirably, however, without the aid of superstar Mo Salah.

Russia v Egypt

What to Expect From Russia

All eyes will be on Russia. Not only are they the hosts of the tournament, but many will wonder if they can replicate their first performance. They will likely roll out with the same line-up, having no reason to make major changes. Denis Cheryshev, however, will likely replace the injured Alan Dzagoev.

Russians held their breath when Dzagoev went down, knowing how important he is for both their midfield and final third play. Cheryshev turned frowns upside down shortly after, however, as he turned in a Man of the Match performance off the bench. He scored two goals at the end of both halves, including a wonder goal with the outside of his foot. Russia announced that Dzagoev had indeed suffered muscle damage to his thigh, so Cheryshev must become a focal point of the team going forward.

The young Aleksander Golovin broke out onto the world stage as well. Although already well known in Russia, he has become a hot commodity in the world of football. Not only did he provide two assists, but capped off his match with a stunning free-kick. He had previously been linked to Arsenal and Juventus, but more clubs will be sure to monitor his World Cup campaign. He will once again look to expose a mediocre defence in hopes of not having everything to play for in the last group match versus Uruguay.

Lastly, right back Mario Fernandes might prove to be crucial. If Salah makes his return, Fernandes will be tasked with slowing him down. The world has seen what Salah can do to opposing defences in the blink of an eye, and Fernandes must be wary of this.

Russia will enter the match as favourites after matchday one and will look to clinch qualification with Uruguay likely to beat Saudi Arabia.

What to Expect From Egypt

Uruguay had to wait until the very end to see victory, but Egypt’s defence wasn’t necessarily stellar. Luis Suarez broke out on many occasions and could have at least recorded a brace. All in all, the Egyptians did put in all their effort and didn’t seem fazed by Salah’s injury concerns.

According to Goal.com, Salah’s agent claims that the winger will be fit for the match. Salah was arguably the top footballer in the world last season, something Egypt had never been able to claim before. He scored an astounding 44 goals in 52 matches for Liverpool. Egypt relied on him throughout qualifying and he will be crucial for their hopes of survival.

More will be expected from forward Trézéguet as well. Playing for Kasimpasa in Turkey, he scored 16 goals and recorded six assists last season. He was unable to break Uruguay’s defensive line, but will hope to do better versus Russia. Russia’s defensive names don’t compare to those of Uruguay, and Trézéguet knows this. Having Salah to his side can prove to be a deadly combination as well.

Egypt knows everything is on the line with this match. A loss here and an Uruguay win versus Saudi Arabia will knock the Egyptians out of the World Cup.

The Last Word

From top to bottom, Russia have more talent. Expectations were high for Egypt after Salah’s record-breaking season, but the Russians proved that they’re no pushover, especially at home. Fans should expect more Golovin magic and a determined performance by Salah. A draw isn’t out of the question, but Russia have what it takes to come out on top.

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