Egypt vs Uruguay: 5 things to look forward to as Salah returns

Egypt and Uruguay will complete the first round of fixtures in Group A on Friday afternoon.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Host nation Russia and Saudi Arabia will look to get the 2018 World Cup off to a flying start in Thursday evening’s opener, while Egypt and Uruguay will have to wait until Friday afternoon to get their campaigns underway.

Uruguay will be the favourites to emerge from the group, given their superior experience and notable firepower up front, but the other three sides will keep a close eye on the runners-up spot. 

Read RealSport’s Egypt vs Uruguay preview HERE.

The big news ahead of this game, though, is that Mo Salah will indeed be fit to start against the Uruguayans, handing the Pharaohs a much-needed boost.

The first fixture of a World Cup is a big occasion for every player involved, and for the fans back home. Here are a few things we can look forward to in this second match of Group A…

  1. 1 Luis Suarez is hungry... for goals

    REUTERS/Andres Stapff

    If anyone at this World Cup has arrived feeling as though they may need to redeem himself, it's Luis Suarez. 

    After being dismissed in 2014's World Cup for his third biting offence, this time on Giorgio Chiellini, a disgraced Suarez once again found himself in the media's firing line.

    Although Uruguay won the game, with the incident initially going unpunished, the Uruguayans were beaten 2-0 by South American rivals Colombia in the last-16 with Suarez watching from home.

    Against a combined strike force of Suarez and Edinson Cavani, the African nation may end up doing a little more defending than they would have liked. 

    This will give Suarez and partner Cavani the chance to get off to a promising start. It's an interesting dynamic between the two and Suarez will be eager -perhaps a little too eager- to hit the ground running.

  2. 2 Mo Salah saving the day

    REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

    After injuring his shoulder in Liverpool's Champions League final, it was the news that the nation was dreading...

    After Salah came off worse in a collision with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, his shoulder injury has severely hampered his preparations for the tournament. Posing for a picture with a fan, Salah was still in visible discomfort after his shoulder was accidentally knocked.

    With a nation sweating on his fitness, manager Hector Cuper has relieved these stresses and confirmed that Salah is "almost 100%" certain to play against Uruguay.

    It's a massive boost for the Pharaohs, who are noticeably blunt in attack without their national icon.

    Not just is it positive news for the Egyptians, but for fans, too, who are now able to enjoy Salah -hopefully- shine at a major international tournament.

  3. 3 A clearer picture in Group A

    With Uruguay the outright favourites to take the top honours in Group A, attention will probably turn to the second spot.

    The Russians and Saudis will watch this one with great interest. Not only from a scouting point of view, but to see whether there is a chink in either sides' armour; could the second spot be there for the taking?

    On paper, having Salah fit will go a long way to helping Egypt's chances of going further than the group stage, but Russia and Saudi Arabia will smell blood should he under-perform as a result of an extended spell on the sidelines.

    The group is wide open, and this one may shape the course of the next two rounds.

    A poor, abject display from Egypt could give the other two sides the belief and realisation that emerging from this group is a distinct possibility. 

  4. 4 Egypt's other sources of goals

    REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

    With so much weight on the shoulders of Salah, who else can step up to the plate?

    Salah has 33 goals in 57 appearances for his country, with the nearest team mate to those numbers midfielder Abdallah Said with a mere six in 37. 

    Marwan Mohsen is the obvious choice up front should Salah prove to not yet be fit enough to feature, but he has only four goals in 25 matches. Beyond Salah, though, there really is no other obvious outlet for the Egyptians to use that can carry a genuine threat.

    Perhaps the wisest move is to rest the Liverpool man and shift all efforts on the next two matches?

  5. 5 Uruguay's first serious test

    The schedule of warm-up fixtures for Uruguay hasn't been particularly heavy, with the South Americans playing only one game ahead of the tournament. 

    A 3-0 win over Uzbekistan was a good, healthy victory for the side to grease the hinges, but are they adequately prepared for tougher, more stubborn opposition?

    While Egypt may not be realistically aiming to win the entire thing, there will be a sense among their fans that progress from the group should be the minimum, but can Uruguay really measure their credentials and their own agenda against them?

    Tougher matches lie in wait for Uruguay, and should the script be stuck to, a last-16 match-up with either Spain or Portugal looks probable.

    Is their group going to create a false sense of ease and security?

Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group A in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.

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Jack Dudley

Football writer and Championship enthusiast, currently based in the Middle East.