Russia vs Egypt – Tuesday, June 19, 19:00BST/20:00CEST/21:00 MSK – Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
It was one of the big surprises of the first matchday. Russia fans were more or less pessimistic ahead of the Sbornaya‘s first match against Saudi Arabia at the World Cup. Things were then made even worse when Alan Dzagoev went down with an injury. Head coach Stanislav Cherchesov reacted and brought on Denis Cheryshev and the Villarreal midfielder, so often ignored back home, was brilliant scoring Russia’s second goal and adding another in the second half as Russia stormed to a 5-0 victory.
It was a brilliant performance all around by a Sbornaya side that had not won a game in seven matches going into the tournament. Those games, in particular, had been sitting on the mind of journalists and fans. “We are now at the tournament those games no longer matter, what matters is the World Cup,” Cherchesov told the media on Monday.
Cherchesov was also quick to add that Russia had not achieved anything yet. “Tomorrow [against Egypt] will be a different game, and we will have to make some changes. This is the World Cup, and no game is easy,” Cherchesov told the press at a media conference on Monday.
One of the main questions ahead of the match has been how Russia will handle Egypt star, Mohamed Salah. Whether the Liverpool attacking midfielder will play or not will remain a game-day decision. Cherchesov was careful about wanting to single out Salah as the main threat. “We will focus on our games and our tactics,” Cherchesov summed up.
“Egypt have a lot of good players that can play modern football. We have our mission and will accomplish our mission,” Cherchesov added. Overall, Cherchesov seemed to feel comfortable no matter whether Salah will be in the line-up or not for Egypt on Tuesday.
The story will, of course, be very different for Egypt on Tuesday night at the St. Petersburg Stadium. Salah might be the only player Egypt’s Argentine head coach Héctor Cúper would not be able to replace. Against Uruguay, on matchday 1 Cúper replaced Salah by playing Amr Warda on the right, and Abdallah Said in the centre. Neither attacking midfielder has the offensive firepower to replace the Liverpool star, however.
Instead, Egypt took a collective approach trying to swarm forward in great numbers whenever winning the ball. It was a strategy that seemed to surprise Uruguay at times, and while many expected that La Celeste would dominate the game, it was an even affair that was only decided by a José Giménez header in the 89th minute of the game.
Hence, while Egypt will be disappointed about the final result, the game highlighted that Les Pharaons are competitive even without Mohamed Salah in their midst. As for the game on Tuesday. Both teams will be under pressure. Egypt will need to win not to be eliminated early from the group. Russia, in the meantime, are playing at home and carry the expectations of an entire nation. With this in mind, the game on Tuesday should be a rather defensive affair in which both teams will be careful to avoid making the last mistake that could decide the game.
Russia vs Egypt – Players to look out for:
Aleksandr Golovin #17 – Russia (CSKA Moscow)
Aleksandr Golovin is on everyone’s lips here in Russia. The CSKA Moscow attacking midfielder had a brilliant game and is now linked with a €25 million move to Juventus. Those close to the Russia camp have told the Futbolgrad Network that Juventus, in fact, have already made an official offer to CSKA President Evgenii Giner. But with Golovin playing well at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Giner might very well try to hold out on selling his talented midfielder. Golovin could after all further increase his transfer value with further outstanding performances against Egypt and Uruguay. Hence, Golovin will be the most watched Sbornaya player when Russia take the field against Egypt on Tuesday night.
Mohamed Salah #7 – Egypt (Liverpool)
Will he play or not? That was still an outstanding question when this preview was typed up on Monday. There is no doubt that Salah will be crucial for this Egypt side on Tuesday against Russia. The Liverpool attacking midfielder burst onto the scene this season with outstanding performances in both the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League by scoring 44 goals and 16 assists in 52 games for Liverpool this season.
Russia vs Egypt – Match Stats
- Russia and Egypt face each other for the first time in history.
- Since the fall of the Soviet Union Russia have not lost a game against an African country at a World Cup (W2 D1).
- Egypt have never beaten a team from Europe at the World Cup (D2 L2)
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Russia vs Egypt – 1-1
Russia vs Egypt – Lineups
Akinfeev – Zhirkov, Ignashevich, Kutepov, Mário Fernandes – Gazinskiy, Zobnin – Golovin, Cheryshev, Samedov – Dzyuba
Head Coach: Stanislav Cherchesov
El-Shenawy – Mohamed Abdel-Shafi, Gabr, Hegazy, Ahmed Fathi – Hamed, Elneny – Trezeguet, Said, Salah (Warda) – Mohsen
Head Coach: Héctor Cúper
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.