(Photo credit - Balint Koch)
19:00 BST, Tuesday 27th March, Letzigrund (Zurich, Switzerland)
Greece will be looking to stop the flow of Egypt and Mohamed Salah as they look to rebuild after missing out on World Cup qualification and losing to Switzerland last week.
After running out 1-0 losers against Switzerland on Friday, Greece will be keen to return to winning ways when they welcome Egypt to the Letzigrund in Zurich.
However, Egypt, despite their late loss against Portugal which came courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo brace, will be a tricky team to hold out with the form Salah is in at present.
Given Egypt are heading to the World Cup for the first time since 1990 and only their third time in the competition's history, a match against Greece should present them with a good test of their level going into the summer.
Last Time Out
Greece 0-1 Switzerland (International friendly)
Greece struggled in an ultimately embarrassing performance with no real clear plan or chances to put the Swiss away. The only goal of the game came from a beautiful overhead kick by Blerim Dzemaili in 59th minute.
The hosts failed to register a shot on target in the entire game, only managing to find space to shoot six times. It’s becoming more and more clear why they failed to qualify for the World Cup, the team looks so uninspired with seemingly no game plan.
Greece looked tiresome at the back with next to no defensive co-ordination or communication in would should be their key area with what has the potential to be a strong partnership between Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Kostas Manolas.
Egypt 1-2 Portugal (International friendly)
Egypt suffered their first defeat since the African Cup of Nations as Cristiano Ronaldo scored two late goals to rule out Mohamed Salah’s earlier strike. Having played well for the 90 minutes, their concentration slipped at the last and lost out on what would’ve been a huge win for them.
Of course, all eyes were on Mohamed Salah due to the forwards sensational form at Liverpool and he kept impressing with a fantastic finish from outside the box into the bottom left corner. For as good as Egypt are going forward, they cannot rely on Salah.
When he was substituted in the 79th minute, Egypt immediately looked weaker and paid the price for not having a key attacking option. The defence couldn’t withstand the pressure and conceded two late goals in the final minutes to lose the tie.
Greece will be looking to bounce back from their defeat last week and start finding their feet as an international team again.
One of the best ways to do that is to find a line-up and stick with it, so Greece’s best option would be to stick with the same line-up from last week and make tactical changes rather than physical ones.
Egypt will likely stick with the same lineup as last week as well but, unlike Greece, it’ll be because this is their best line-up and they’ll want to increase chemistry between the players as much as possible before the World Cup.
Key Battle: Mohamed Salah (Egypt) vs Panagiotis Retsos (Greece)
Unfortunately for Panagiotis Retsos, he will more than likely have the job of trying to stop Mohamed Salah on Tuesday night. Something that most Premier League teams have struggled to do this season now falls on his shoulders.
It’ll be interesting to see how Greece set up defensively to try and counter Salah, whom must of their emphasis will probably be on. However, they must be cautious not to over-defend Salah and leave themselves open in other areas.
Mohamed Salah, in his now-signature fashion, will take on anyone he comes up against and will probably end up drifting towards the centre on attacks, making it very risky for a defender to follow him centrally.
Unsurprisingly, most people’s attention will probably be on the Liverpool forward as he has been in sensational form for club and country in the last year. He doesn’t seem to be stuttering either – scoring four in most recent club game and one last week against Portugal, finding the bottom corner with a wonderful curling effort.
And of course, every performance of his is now under the microscope as teams and countries all over the world try to figure out a way to combat his talents. However, so far no one has shown a clear plan of how to stop him.
Their performance last week was void of personality, tactical influence and showed next to no signs of being a team that wants to rebuild and start looking forward to qualifying for Euro 2020.
Something that needs to be seen tomorrow night is a clear direction of where the national team is headed – a tactical change or a different playing style may be needed but the fans deserves to know what direction the national side is headed in.
Elneny in midfield
Elneny continues to impress for Egypt and Arsenal this season and is starting to turn into a real prospect of being a dominant centre midfielder. Having signed a new contract with Arsenal, his confidence should be sky high.
Another key performance against Greece and he could secure his place as one of the first names on the Egypt team sheet. The young central midfielder has been showing a mature side as of late and if he brings this to the World Cup, you will be seeing a much more balanced Egypt midfield.
Prediction: Greece 0-2 Egypt
Greece need a good performance but, unfortunately, high-flying Egypt should be too much. Egypt are a much more balanced side right now and with Salah in the form he’s in, it's hard to see Greece keeping a clean sheet or even come near stopping him.