Egypt vs. Russia, 2 p.m. ET Fox
- Russia +113
- Egypt +319
- Draw +221
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Heading into the World Cup, the pressure was on Russia. The host nation had not won a game since the opener of the 2017 Confederations Cup (a 2-0 win over New Zealand) last June. Luckily, Russia got just what the doctor ordered with an opening game against Saudi Arabia, the worst team in the tournament, and were able to treat their fans (including Vladimir Putin) to a 5-0 victory.
Things will get tougher in their second match as Egypt are a much better side than the Green Falcons. Russia are dealing with injury concerns after Alan Dzagoev left last match with a hamstring problem. Luckily for them Denis Cheryshev, who should probably have been starting anyways, was able to come on and scored what could go down as the goal of the tournament. The injury to Dzagoev shouldn’t have a negative impact — and could possibly help the Sbornaya — if Cheryshev starts.
On the other side of the coin, Mo Salah is playing for Egypt after he suprisingly sat out the Pharoahs’ entire match against Uruguay. I am a bit worried about the Liverpool star’s fitness as the game against Uruguay was set up perfectly for a 75th-minute Salah substitution when the Uruguay back line was clearly exhausted. The fact that he didn’t even really warm up indicates to me he may not be close to 100% for this game against Russia.
Russia knows that a draw will most likely be enough to lift them to the knockout rounds. A win would guarantee it, but a draw should do the trick. It will be a tricky test for Russia to even get the point, because Egypt defend very well as a unit, and Russia are not the offensive dynamo that their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia indicates. This is a good spot to take advantage of people overreacting to one strong performance by a team, and I think this will be a low-scoring affair and think the draw is a good bet, although Egypt could nick a winner if Salah does in fact play.