Mohamed Salah looks set to return as Egypt bid to put there Uruguay heartache behind them as they look for a vital three points to keep their World Cup dream alive.
The Liverpool forward missed their opening 1-0 defeat last Friday as the shoulder injury he sustained in the Champions League final at the end of May kept him out. But, the Egyptian Football Association has declared their talisman fit to play as they look to thwart a confident looking Russian side, in what should be an entertaining game in Group A.
Russia blew away a naive Saudi Arabia side in the opening game as goals from Yury Gazinsky, a brace from Denis Cheryshev, and further goals from Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin got them off to a five-star start.
Both sides know the importance of the three points, for Russia it will put them in prime position for a spot in the last 16. As for Egypt, it will give them a fighting chance heading into their final game.
Egypt hoping for Salah inspiration
After a resilient performance in their opening game, the Egyptians thought they had done enough to secure a point. But after some late pressure from Luis Suarez and company, Jose Gimenez powered in a header to deny Egypt of their first World Cup point since 1990.
For large parts they frustrated their Uruguayan counterparts, but without the pace and skill of Salah they struggled to create any real clear-cut chances. If Hector Cuper’s side can retain that dogged fight they showed for the majority of their opening game and just add that quality in the final third, there will be chances for them.
Salah has been in imperious form for both club and country this season. For Liverpool he scored 43 goals, whilst for Egypt, it was his penalty that fired them to Russia. It seems Salah will now be ready to grace a World Cup and give his side a much-needed morale boost in what is a pivotal game for both sides.
Russians look to all but secure passage to last 16
With all the pressure of opening the biggest tournament in world football, Russia appeared to revel in the pressure last Thursday as they steamrolled past a sorry Saudi Arabia.
It was a comprehensive performance which showcased their attacking threat. If Egypt has Salah, Russia have their own ‘Salah’ in the shape of the creative Golovin.
The central midfielder from CSKA Moscow played a starring role as he scored and assisted as Russia romped home. If Russia are to upset the apple-cart in this tournament, Golovin could well be pivotal to their chances.
With two games remaining, Russia know a win will all but secure a place in the last 16 and give them breathing space heading into the final game against Uruguay.