The pundits and experts weren’t optimistic of Russia’s chances coming into this World Cup, with many going as far as saying that this was the worst side Russia have ever brought to a World Cup. Certainly FIFA felt the same way, nudging Russia down to 70th in the World Rankings and making them officially the lowest ranked team in the tournament.
Being a host nation can do strange things to a team though. They absolutely demolished Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game, cheered on by huge support from the stands as Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev ran the show in Moscow. It’s worth noting that Saudi Arabia are the second lowest ranked side at the tournament, but nevertheless it was an impressive performance.
Egypt are likely to pose more of a threat than the feckless Saudi Arabia squad. They will need to go on the attack more than their predecessors too after losing their opening game against Uruguay, and the fact that Mohamed Salah returns to the starting lineup is a huge boost to their chances too.
The Pharaohs were poor in their opening game, there’s no denying that. Salah was confined to the bench for the full 90 minutes against Uruguay, and they were definitely playing for the goalless draw. Uruguay were well below par as well, and Egypt looked to be on course for that point until a late Jose Gimenez goal put them a goal behind.
To be honest, they never really threatened to get back into the game. Both teams were disappointing in that match, but it’s Egypt coming out of it looking worse. A point is unlikely to be enough for them considering Russia’s huge goal difference advantage, so Salah and company will have to go for the win on Tuesday.
Whether they have the ability to do that remains to be seen. Defensively they aren’t the best, conceding in seven of their last eight matches and now facing a Russia side buoyed by confidence. However, Russia have only kept a clean sheet in one of their last eight matches too, and with Salah back in the starting lineup we’re expecting much more from Egypt going forward.
This makes Both Teams to Score look a great value bet here, but in the end we’re expecting the host nation to take the points home. Russia haven’t lost against African opposition in the World Cup since the break up of the Soviet Union, and they’re playing an Egypt side who have never beaten European opposition in the World Cup either. We’re going for a 2-1 win for Russia for our correct score predictions, and backing super sub Denis Cheryshev to get on the scoresheet. The Villarreal winger came on for the injured Alan Dzagoev against Saudi Arabia and netted two excellent goals, so he looks a great price to continue his good form.
Russia Predicted Lineup: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevic, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinskiy, Cheryshev, Golovin, Samdeov, Dzyuba
Egypt Predicted Lineup: El-Shenawy, Fathy, Gabr, Hegazi, Shafy, Hamed, Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen
This will be the first meeting between Russia and Egypt.
Alan Dzagoev is ruled out for this game after picking up an hamstring injury against Saudi Arabia. Aleksandr Golovin will move to a more central position to cover for Dzagoev, with Denis Cheryshev coming in on the left. Artem Dzyuba could start after coming off the bench to score against Saudi Arabia too.
Mohamed Salah wasn’t deemed fit enough to play a part in Egypt’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay, but the Liverpool star is expected to make the starting lineup here. He will come in for Amr Warda, but apart from that Egypt are expected to field an unchanged starting lineup.