World Cup 2018: Russia v Egypt
Egypt forward Mohamed Salah will need to pass a fitness test to feature against Russia.
Liverpool’s Salah sat out the 1-0 loss to Uruguay after injuring his shoulder in last month’s Champions League final.
“He is fit. I hope he will be fit to play. In the previous match we thought he was fit but we have a final fitness test,” said Egypt boss Hector Cuper.
Russia will be without attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev after he pulled his hamstring in the opening game.
Left-back Yuri Zhirkov trained individually on Sunday because of a minor ankle problem but is likely to be passed fit.
Egypt right-back Ahmed Fathi, who captained the side in the last game, has shaken off a minor muscle problem.
Defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed was substituted during Friday’s defeat with a back issue, but the Egyptian FA have confirmed he will be fit to face Russia.
Russia scored more goals in the first game of the 2018 World Cup than in the whole of the 2014 tournament in Brazil, where they netted just twice in three group matches.
Their performance against Saudi Arabia was so impressive that Russian President Vladimir Putin felt compelled to call head coach Stanislav Cherchesov during his post-match press conference, telling him to pass on his congratulations to the players.
It wasn’t quite such a good start for Egypt, who were without talisman Mohamed Salah as they fell to a late defeat at the hands of Uruguay. However, the Liverpool star is expected to start this game, despite ongoing speculation about his fitness. At Egypt’s recent training camp in Grozny, Salah reportedly required the help of his team-mates to pull on his top.
The Pharaohs are still desperately seeking a first World Cup win in what will be their sixth game at the finals. As for Russia, they last progressed to the knockout stage in 1986 under the banner of the Soviet Union, but victory in St Petersburg would leave them on the brink of a place in the knockout stage.
VIEW FROM BOTH CAMPS
Russia midfielder Anton Miranchuk: “[It] looks like Salah will play against us because they need points.
“Of course, he has a big influence on Egypt but the team is still 11 players, not one. Let’s see what Salah can do against us.”
Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny: “We all believe that we’re able to beat them.
“We realise that this is going to be a very tough game against a host nation supported by thousands of fans. We are well aware of that, but we have no option other than winning, which means we need to keep our calm and focus.
“In the match against Russia we will go for it because we want to stay here for as long as we can. To play in a World Cup and experience this atmosphere is a dream you hope will never end.”
- This will be the first meeting between Russia and Egypt.
- Russia’s 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia was the biggest victory by a host nation in an opening game since Italy beat the USA 7-1 in 1934.
- The win means that Russia have already scored more goals in this tournament than they did at each of their last two World Cup appearances – they netted twice in 2014, and four times in 2002.
- As Russia, they have failed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup in three attempts (1994, 2002 and 2014).
- In fact, Russia have failed to win their second game at the last five World Cups – they last did it as the USSR, beating New Zealand 3-0 in 1982.
- Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia are unbeaten against African teams at the World Cup (W2, D1), including a 6-1 win over Cameroon in 1994 in which Oleg Salenko scored five.
- Russia’s head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, a former goalkeeper, made his sole World Cup appearance in that game.
- Aleksandr Golovin scored his first World Cup goal and registered two assists on his debut in the competition.
- Egypt are still waiting for their first win at a World Cup finals (D2, L3). No African side has played as many World Cup games without a win.
- The Pharaohs have failed to score in each of their last three World Cup matches. Their last goal was a penalty scored by Magdy Adbelghani in a 1-1 with the Netherlands in 1990.
- Their only World Cup clean sheet came in a 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland in June 1990.
- Mohamed Elneny completed 44 passes versus Uruguay in their first game, the most by an Egyptian player at the World Cup.
- Mohamed Salah was Egypt’s top scorer in qualifying with five goals in five appearances.