Mohamed Salah, Egypt, National ( Chris Ricco/BackpagePix/Sports Inc/PA Images)

Salah & Suarez take on the hosts – 2018 World Cup Group A Preview

The World Cup is getting underway, so it’s time to turn to Group A, featuring hosts Russia and Liverpool’s Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah.

Russia might not have been everyone’s preference as hosts, but some of the stadia on show do look tremendous and the host nation have a lot to prove on the pitch.

Up against them, Uruguay have enjoyed a renaissance over the last decade, proving one of South America’s strongest sides once more, while the hopes of Egypt rest with a player Kopites are somewhat familiar with.

Saudi Arabia make up the group and will contest the opening game of the tournament against Russia.


Group Insight


Fixtures & UK TV Info

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - Monday, June 20, 2016: Russia's Aleksandr Golovin during the final Group B UEFA Euro 2016 Championship match against Wales at Stadium de Toulouse. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

  • Russia vs. Saudi Arabia – Luzhniki Stadium – 4pm, June 14 – ITV 1
  • Egypt vs. Uruguay – Ekaterinburg Arena – 1pm, June 15 – BBC One
  • Russia vs. Egypt – Saint Petersburg Stadium – 7pm, June 19 – BBC One
  • Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia – Rostov Arena – 4pm, June 20 – BBC One
  • Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt – Volgograd Arena – 3pm, June 25 – ITV 4
  • Uruguay vs. Russia – Samara Arena – 3pm, June 25 – ITV 1


Red Focus

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, June 8, 2018: An "Ode to Mo" poem and street art by Musa Okwonga dedicated to Liverpool and Egypt footballer Mohamed Salah painted on a vacant lot in Liverpool city centre. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Mo Salah wears No. 10 for Egypt
  • Team-mate and centre-back Ahmed Hegazi previously linked
  • Former Reds Luis Suarez and Seb Coates in Uruguay squad
  • Jose Gimenez & Lucas Torreira linked with Liverpool over the last year

The hopes of a nation rest on Salah’s shoulders, which is a worry considering that’s where his injury is.

Our own Egyptian King is expected to return to full fitness, possibly in time for their opening game on against Uruguay, and they need him firing to have a chance of progression.

On the ex-Reds front, Uruguay remain a watchable team though are in a state of transition.

After a goal-line save and a(nother) biting incident in previous finals, what will Suarez have in store for Russia 2018?


Ones to Watch

02.07.2010, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, RSA, FIFA WM 2010, Viertelfinale, Uruguay (URU) vs Ghana (GHA) im Bild Luis Suarez of Uruguay (L) played with a hand, Jorge Fucile (4) of Uruguay and Goalkeeper of Uruguay Fernando Muslera in last minute of overtime, EXPA Pictures © 2010, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ Sportida/ Vid Ponikvar, ATTENTION! Slovenia OUT

Obviously Suarez, he’s absolutely immense. Keep an eye on midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur, too.

Hegazi and Ramadan Sobhi have just been relegated with West Brom and Stoke respectively, and were both mentioned as possible Liverpool signings in the past—though Sobhi has since joined Huddersfield.

Those links usually come with a line of text such as “to keep Salah company,” because we’ve all seen Salah seems an introverted and unsociable sort of guy.

Lucky all those Egyptians will be around him this summer, hey?

Almost the entirety of Saudi Arabia’s squad is based in their homeland, save for three: Yahya Al-Shehri, Salem Al-Dawsari and Fahad Al-Muwallad—they all play in La Liga.

Well, they don’t exactly play in La Liga; they belonged to teams in La Liga for a few months. On loan. As part of a deal between the two nations, rather than because the clubs wanted them.

Still, Al-Dawsari got a couple of assists against Real Madrid, so you never know…


Who Goes Through?

02.07.2010, Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, RSA, FIFA WM 2010, Viertelfinale, Uruguay (URU) vs Ghana (GHA) im Bild Fans of Uruguay celebrate after penalty shots, EXPA Pictures (C) 2010, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ Sportida/ Vid Ponikvar, ATTENTION! Slovenia OUT

It has to be Uruguay, with the experience and quality in their squad.

By which we mean they are far better at the dark arts than the others will be, and will happily kick their way through to the last 16.

Their offensive quality will count for much, too.

Alongside them…go on, Mo. Egypt to cause mayhem by winning a first-ever match at the finals, and progress at the expense of the hosts.

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