The second match of the World Cup finals sees the first set of matches in Group A draw to a close when African champions Egypt take on the South American dark horses Uruguay in the opening game for both sides.
Having seen Russia get off to a powerful start on Thursday afternoon both these teams will be eager to open up their campaigns with a victory to ease the pressure on them heading into the latter part of the group.
The Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt go into this tournament with their expectations raised after that and with one of the biggest stars in the game at the present time in their ranks they have someone to call on when the going gets tough. When Egypt won that event in Gabon they were defensively resolute and they will certainly need that to be the case here too.
The preparations for the Egyptians could have been better. They head into the tournament off the back of a winless run which stretched to six matches and failures to beat Greece and Kuwait in recent friendlies will be concerning. There has also been the uncertainty over the fitness of star man Mo Salah so it will be interesting to see how they begin.
Often ones who can sail under the radar in these major championships, Uruguay head into this tournament seen as dark horses and as a team who plenty of sides will be keeping tabs on throughout. That is both a good and a bad thing. You are only in that position if you are considered a danger but it adds to the pressure and scrutiny around everything which isn’t always ideal.
Interestingly, Uruguay chose to warm up for this tournament without too much match practice. Their only friendly was against Uzbekistan which wasn’t much of a test so you wonder if that will benefit them because their players will come in here fresh or whether it will hinder them because one or two will have allowed rust to set in.
The will he or won’t he has been decided and Mo Salah has been passed fit by his manager to take his place in the Egypt line up for this match. Whether he completes 90 minutes with a lack of training is another story.
Uruguay appears to have a fully fit squad to choose from so we are likely to see the Atletico Madrid duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez as well as the star strike force of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
I’m expecting a tight match here purely because I would imagine that both sides will see this as their toughest test in the group. In a way that should free both up to show us what they have at their disposal but neither will want to lose the match which will combat that.
I fancy Uruguay will find a way to win this one though. They are so tight at the back and if they keep Salah contained, if they need to do that, then they have the firepower up top to get themselves over the line. I don’t expect them to run away with this match. This doesn’t feel like a game that is going to be too open so I’ll take Uruguay to win by one goal which offers decent enough value.
WON – Back Uruguay to win by 1 goal for a 3/10 stake at 3.40 with Bet365