By William Hill
Last Updated: 15th June 2018
The second fixture of Group A kicks-off with Uruguay v Egypt, as two stand-out stars set to feature for their sides. Mohamed Salah and Luis Suarez are at the opposite ends of their international careers but will hope to be the difference in their opening game.
Luis Suárez is a tried and tested international with two incredulous World Cup experiences already under his belt. Luis Suarez has been directly involved in seven of Uruguay’s last 13 goals at the World Cup, won the 2011 edition of Copa America and is Uruguay’s all-time record goal-scorer.
Mohamed Salah meanwhile has only one previous international tournament experience, the 2017 African Cup of Nations where he finished as a finalist. Salah’s double against Congo last year fired his Egypt side to their first World Cup in 28 years.
Both strikers will be staking their claim for the Golden Boot, given the comparably easier group they find themselves in. Luis Suárez has just come back off the end of another fruitful season in front of goal for Barcelona, while Mo Salah broke the Premier League record for the most goals in single season.
With both sides already mentally expecting three points against a timid Saudi Arabia, this game then proves decisive in terms of who tops the group and takes the easier route to the quarter-finals.For Egyptians, Mo Salah is a national treasure and he carries the hopes and weight of 100 million on his shoulders.
For Luis Suarez, this tournament is another chance of seemingly endless chances at World Cup redemption. The furore of his hand-ball and then celebration to deny Ghana a place in the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2010 is only dwarfed by the shame and chastisement he faced for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil four years later.
It is Luis Suarez who will be sitting a lot more comfortably though. While Egypt boast a strong core of Premier League players, Mo Salah is their only major artillery going forward. Meanwhile, Suarez will be playing alongside long-time compatriot Edinson Cavani and the pair boast a potent 97 international goals between them. In fact, Uruguay’s side is littered with experienced internationals with four players with more than 100 caps and Suarez (98) and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera (97) set to follow soon.
Mo Salah created plentiful time and space for himself in England and Europe last season but he could struggle in the tighter spaces that Uruguay would push him to operate in. There’s also the prospect that the shoulder injury Mo Salah is nursing could come back to haunt Egypt.
Uruguay’s Atletico duo Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez are notoriously tough henchmen, straight from the school of Sergio Ramos, so you wouldn’t put it past them to test Salah’s shoulder early on. Mo Salah scored five of Egypt’s eight qualifying goals this year and his absence would be a huge blow to Egypt’s prospects.