THE biggest sporting attraction on the planet is set to take centre stage over the course of the next thirty days with the football extravaganza that is the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The tournament – which will commence this Thursday – will see 32 nations from five different confederations stake their claim for arguably the most coveted prize in world football.
Hosts Russia will flag off the competition when they take on Saudi Arabia in the opening match which will potentially register the highest viewing audience worldwide, alongside the final in July.
Friday will however see Egypt line up against Uruguay in the second match of the tournament. The Pharaohs, who will be one of five representatives from the African continent after Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia, will be staging their first appearance at the finals after nearly a three decade hiatus – having featured last during the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Egypt booked their ticket to Russia after finishing top of Group E in the African qualifiers with 13 points, four points ahead of Uganda in second, and a staggering 6 points behind perhaps the biggest flops of the qualifiers – the Black Stars of Ghana – who could only manage a paltry third place finish.
The North Africans are seemingly a rejuvenated side, with a blend of youth and experience, as they seek to become the first team from Africa to successfully claim the FIFA World Cup trophy.
Egypt nonetheless have the daunting task of keeping two-time champions Uruguay at bay in what will be the second match of Group A. 1930 and 1950 seems like light years away being the only times La Celeste lifted the coveted prize, but the current crop of players in the Uruguay national team screams of top drawer stalwarts.
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Some of the biggest star names in the team are the likes of Luis Suarez of Barcelona, Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain and Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid, while household names in the Egypt camp include Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal.
Whereas Uruguay have plenty of quality to choose from, seeing as their 23-man squad boasts of players plying their trade in some of the biggest clubs in Europe, Egypt’s World Cup hopes to a massive degree, hinge on the fitness and availability of Mohamed Salah.
The Liverpool forward sustained a shoulder injury after getting tangled up with Sergio Ramos during the Champions League final against Real Madrid a month ago; a match which the Los Blancos won emphatically to clinch their fourth European title in five years.
Although Ramos was quick to protest his innocence, the decorated Spanish defender is as cheeky as a bag of weasels and his pantomime villain-like tendencies has a number of people believing the injury infliction was as deliberate as they come.
One such person is Roberto Firmino, who has been at the centre of claims that the Real Madrid skipper deliberately put the full weight of his body over Salah to dent Liverpool’s chances in the Champions League final.
It’s hard to side with Ramos considering half a million people have thus far signed an online petition seeking either UEFA or FIFA to take retrospective action against the Real Madrid defender.
As it remains though, Salah continues with his journey to regain the full throttle fitness and form that saw him score 44 goals in all competitions last season.
The 25-year old took to the field for some light training on Monday with the Egypt national team, but was inescapably reduced to a mere spectator as his teammates were put through the paces under the watchful eye of head coach Hector Cuper.
His involvement against Uruguay as such remains doubtful, as the match comes a fraction too early for the Liverpool winger.
Uruguay vs. Egypt betting predictions
Whereas Egypt may lose some sting in their attack with the enforced absence of their main man upfront, Uruguay will be firing on all cylinders with the attacking duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
The former, who was a subject of ire from pundits after hogging the headlines in both South Africa and Brazil for all the wrong reasons, will be determined to make amends for his despicable behavior with a fine showing in Russia.
Egypt may have a burgeoning side but the South Americans are a more accomplished tight-knit side, having finished fourth during the 2010 edition in South Africa.
Uruguay could further count on the experience of head coach Oscar Tabarez who will be leading La Celeste to his fourth World Cup finals after previous runs in 1990, 2010 and 2014.
|Best Bet||Odds||Bet Now|
|Both teams to score||$2.50 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
|Uruguay to win||$1.57 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
Egypt recent results
- Belgium 3-0 Egypt (May 6, 2018)
- Egypt 0-0 Colombia (May 1, 2018)
- Kuwait 1-1 Egypt (April 25, 2018)
Uruguay recent results
- Uruguay 3-0 Uzbekistan (May 8, 2018)
- Wales 1-0 Uruguay (March 26, 2018)
- Uruguay 2-0 Czech Republic (March 23, 2018)
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