2018 World Cup – Group A preview: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay & Egypt

Group A at the 2018 World Cup will function a Russian team on the lookout to stay clear of the shame of an initially-spherical exit, although Egypt will be hopeful of advancing in their initial appearance at the event in almost 3 decades.

Hosts Russia will open the event and the team with a clash against Saudi Arabia in Moscow on 14 June. Although it is barely the most engaging of opening matches for these a significant event, it is a crucial clash for the Russians, who will need to have a sturdy start off to ease fears that they will stick in the footsteps of South Africa in 2010 and come to be just the 2nd host nation to fall at the initial hurdle.

South American heavyweights Uruguay appear to be the dominant pressure in the team, with Oscar Tabarez’s facet 2nd to only Brazil in the notoriously complicated CONMEBOL qualifying event. Boasting the likes of Diego Godin, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, two-time champions ‘La Celeste’ have a very good combination of youth and encounter and ought to have no issues ending in the major two.

The team most likely to join Uruguay in advancing could properly be Egypt. The North Africans are returning to the World Cup for the initially time since 1990, but they have a talented, multipurpose team and a manager in Hector Cuper whose pragmatism is properly suited to the do-or-die mother nature of event football.

But the query mark above the fitness of talisman Mohamed Salah is a significant worry, with the Liverpool man in a race against time to be suited for the finals immediately after suffering a severe shoulder personal injury in the UEFA Champions League remaining the final month.

Saudi Arabia is returning to the World Cup immediately after lacking the final editions in 2010 and 2014, and their reliable displaying in qualifying (they finished runners-up to Asian powerhouses Japan in their team) indicates they are not to be underestimated. The Eco-friendly Falcons are capable of disheartening a lot more talented groups, but they lack the real attacking potency necessary to contend at the maximum amount.

Group A fixtures (all times CAT)

14 June 2018, 17h00 – Russia v Saudi Arabia – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

15 June 2018, 14h00 – Egypt v Uruguay – Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

19 June 2018, 20h00 – Russia v Egypt – Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

20 June 2018, 17h00 – Uruguay v Saudi Arabia – Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don

25 June 2018, 16h00 – Uruguay v Russia – Cosmos Arena, Samara

25 June 2018, 16h00 – Saudi Arabia v Egypt – Volgograd Arena, Volgograd

Group A head-to-heads (as per FIFA stats databases, in reference to ‘home’ team)

Russia v Saudi Arabia – P1 W0 D0 L1 GF2 GA4

Egypt v Uruguay – P1 W0 D L1 GF0 GA2

Russia v Egypt – No preceding matches

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia – P2 W0 D1 L1 GF3 GA4

Uruguay v Russia – P8 W1 D2 L5 GF5 GA14

Saudi Arabia v Egypt – P6 W1 D1 L4 GF7 GA19


Group A: Hosts to face Arabic test

After learning they would host the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ in December 2010, Russia finally learned their long-awaited opponents on 1 December 2017. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side will take on Asia’s Saudi Arabia, Africa’s Egypt and South American nation Uruguay. 


Key Game
Russia v Saudi Arabia (14 June, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow)

The World Cup Opening Match is an event that football fans the world over eagerly tune-in to, marking the beginning of another exciting global finals. At Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, hosts Russia will take on Saudi Arabia in the eagerly-awaited curtain-raiser on 14 June 2018. The Saudis will be the first Asian team to take part in an Opening Match at the global finals.

What you need to know
Russia 2018 will mark Egypt’s first World Cup since Italy 1990. Star man Mohamed Salah bagged the goal which sealed qualification to the global finals in dramatic fashion, as he converted a 94th-minute penalty against Congo to get the party started in Alexandria.

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Sahlawi netted 16 goals on the road to Russia. The 30-year-old frontman finished 2018 World Cup qualifying as joint-top scorer, along with Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and UAE’s Ahmed Khalil.

Uruguay are two-time champions of the World Cup. La Celeste were inaugural winners of the tournament in 1930, before winning it a second time, at Brazil 1950. 

The stat
45 – The age that Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary will be when the Pharaohs take to the pitch at Russia 2018. Should he feature, El-Hadary would surpass Faryd Mondragon’s record as the World Cup’s oldest player. The Colombian goalkeeper set the current record when he appeared at Brazil 2014 at 43 years and three days.

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South Africa need a miracle against Uruguay – 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup

epa05985871 Giuseppe Scalera (R) of Italy vies for the ball with Malebogo Modise (L) of South Africa during the group stage match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2017 between South Africa and Italy in Suwon, South Korea, 24 May 2017. EPA/KIM HEE-CHUL

Graeme Jackson

Friday May 26, 2017. 12:30

South Africa will wrap up their Group D campaign at the U-20 World Cup when they face Uruguay at the Incheon Football Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 13h00 CAT.

Amajita come into the game having suffered back-to-back defeats to Japan and Italy in their first two matches and their hopes of reaching the knockout round hang by a thread.

Thabo Senong’s side cannot finish in the top two of the group and secure direct qualification, but they have a slim hope that a convincing win over Uruguay will see them edge into one of the four best third-place finishers.

Yet given their showings in the tournament so far, it seems unlikely that SA will have the means to overcome a Uruguay side which has overpowered both Italy and Japan without even conceding a goal.

The South Americans may well rest some key players, as they have already secured qualification for the round of 16, but there’s no reason to suggest Fabian Coito’s impressive side will slack off with first place in the group still on the line.

SA coach Thabo Senong has admitted that their fate is out of their own hands and they need a big slice of luck if they are to advance from the group.

“Our focus now is on our next game against Uruguay. Even if we win that match, we still have to rely on what will happen in the other groups in terms of us going through. We just need to give it our all in the last game and hopefully luck will be on our side,” said the Amajita boss.

The other Group D match between Japan and Italy will be played simultaneously in Cheonan, while the SA-Uruguay clash will be refereed by Russian Sergei Karasev.

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