The second set of group games begin with hosts Russia taking on Egypt in what is a huge clash for both nations. Stanislav Cherchesov’s home nation were the big winners from matchday one, opening the tournament with a convincing 5-0 thumping of Saudi Arabia after they had been written off by many. That has given them a huge chance of qualifying, as combined with Egypt losing, it means they should realistically only need a draw tonight to guarantee progress.
Therefore, the African nation know they need to win after losing late on to Uruguay in their opener. Russia’s goal difference means that a draw with the hosts will mean they have to batter Saudi Arabia to stand any chance of qualifying. Given that, we expect them to be going for the win and the anticipated return of Mo Salah is a huge bonus although you have to question how fit he is as he didn’t even warm up against Uruguay.
Here we will give you Russia vs Egypt betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key men and a Russia vs Egypt prediction for the crucial Group A clash.
Our Russia vs Egypt prediction: Russia 0-0 Egypt
Our Russia vs Egypt prediction tips is for a tight, cagey and perhaps even dull game that could improve as they game goes on but ultimately could finish goalless.
After watching the first round of games, people may want to side with Russia but you have to realise just how poor Saudi Arabia were and they got picked off on the counter at will. That will not happen against an Egypt side who are resilient, tough and very hard to break down. Russia, knowing a draw is an excellent result, are also unlikely to show the same ambition as they did last Thursday. That could see the sides cancelling each other out for the first hour or so.
At some stage though, Egypt will have to take the game to the hosts and that is not really their style. We reckon they will leave that as long as possible, playing their normal, defensive style and hoping to nick a goal through Salah’s magic or a set-piece. When they open up, the game could get stretched but we’re not expecting a classic given Russia’s desire for a point and Egypt’s lack of natural attacking instincts.
Our recommended tip – Under 1.5 goals
Both of these sides will be organised, hard to beat and as mentioned, we think defences will be on top for the first half especially. There’s too much at stake for either side to risk going for it knowing that the first goal is crucial.
Whilst we considered zero first-half goals as a potential bet at 21/20, we will instead recommend under 1.5 at 13/8 with William Hill. Again, it’s going to be tight, tense and these are two pretty even sides that will initially set out to not lose. A goal at any time could open the game up but even if there is one it puts the onus on the other side and neither are very capable of breaking through a packed defence. The occasion and importance make this game a must-watch but don’t expect a classic.
The meeting in St. Petersburg will be the first time the two nations have ever met which is to be expected considering they aren’t always at major tournaments.
As for their last games, as mentioned, Russia begin in style, beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 in a perfect start for the hosts. Whilst they obviously deserve credit, you have to say the opposition were woeful, with Saudi Arabia very naive in the way they played.
With Egypt, they suffered late heartbreak, losing 1-0 to Uruguay thanks to a Jose Gimenez header towards the end of their clash. The manner of the defeat made you feel sympathy for the players but in reality the best team won and had Luis Suarez not had an uncharacteristic poor day in front of goal the South Americans would have won comfortably. Egypt’s lack of threat demonstrated just how much they miss Salah, which we all knew.
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Players to watch – Aleksandr Golovin & Mo Salah
The Russian midfielder was, along with Denis Cheryshev, the star man for the hosts in their first game. He has a quality on the ball that few in his team possess, capable of leading transitions, finding killer passes and scoring goals. His importance to the team grew with the news that Alan Dzagoev will miss the remainder of the group games too.
For the African side, we all know their star man. Salah had the season of his life with Liverpool and is a Ballon D’Or contender which says it all. However, he can’t be fit after sustaining that injury in the Champions League final and didn’t come on against Uruguay. They say he will play tomorrow, no doubt through the pain barrier, but even not at 100% he could be the match winner for his country.