June 19, 2018 09:48 PM NPT
Hosts Russia looking to build on magnificent start
Egypt set for Salah boost after opening defeat
Russia and Egypt could not arrive in Saint Petersburg with more disparate emotions following their opening games at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The hosts dealt with the pressure of the curtain-raiser in staggering style, while Egypt saw their long-awaited return start off with a last-gasp, gut-wrenching defeat.
Even the most passionate of Russia fans would have scoffed at serious predictions of a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, but that victory, punctuated by a couple of fine Denis Cheryshev goals, has transformed expectations. Three points could even be enough to seal a Round of 16 spot.
Egypt, on the other hand, have no time to waste. Thankfully for them, Mohamed Salah looks set to return from injury. As well as the obvious attacking threat he will provide, having been a dominating presence in England this season, the return of his talismanic stature with the Pharaohs will no doubt lift their spirits after the late goal conceded against Uruguay.
Team reporter analysis
Russia is over the moon after the magnificent and quite unexpected goal shower in the opening game. But the players have not rested on their laurels. Everyone in the Russian camp has put the result against Saudi Arabia behind them and Egypt is a totally different story. With or without Mohamed Salah on the pitch, the hosts are determined to fight hard and get another victory to put at least one foot in the next round, if not two. - Igor Borunov with Russia
The Uruguay result has imposed a clear state of mind on the Egyptian team: beating Russia is the only option. As Hector Cuper moved towards completing his preparations for the match, with Mohamed Salah's readiness alongside some brilliant performances in their final training session before leaving for Saint Petersburg, he has a selection headache on his hands. After the hosts’ opening result, and with home support, the pressure will be on the Pharaohs, but they can overcome it. - Belal Mostafa with Egypt
Did you know?
Thursday was the first time that two players have scored their first goals for the national team in the Opening Match of a World Cup. Yury Gazinsky struck before Denis Cheryshev went one better, scoring his first two for Russia.
Possible line-ups: Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich, Yuri Zhirkov; Roman Zobnin, Yury Gazinsky, Daler Kuziaev; Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Fedor Smolov
Egypt: Mohammed El Shenawy, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Hegazy, Ahmed Fathi, Mohammed Abdelshafy; Tarek Hamed, Mohammed El Neny, Mahmoud Trezeguet, Abdullah Al Said; Mohammed Salah, Marwan Mohsen