2018 FIFA World Cup Group A and B match preview

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2018 FIFA World Cup Group A and B match preview

Egypt vs. Uruguay
Date: 15/6/18
Time: 1:00pm
Venue: Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

The second game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup takes place between Egypt and Uruguay, and it could be an historic one if Essam El-Hadary get the nod to man the Pharaohs’ goal , and in the process become the oldest player to feature at the World Cup .

The big question on everyone’s lips particularly 100 million Egyptian football fans, is will Mohamed Salah be fit enough for the start of the competition?

The star forward was named in the squad after suffering a shoulder injury in the UEFA Champions League final, but is apparently yet to fully recover from an injury which could see him play a peripheral role in Russia.

That could be the major upper hand a star-studded Uruguay can capitalise upon the Africans, who are heavily reliant and dependent on the reigning African Footballer of the Year, as they lack the fire power to pose any notable threat up front in his absence.

Prediction: 0-2

Morocco vs. Iran
Date: 15/5/18
Time: 4:00pm
Venue: Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg

Morocco and Iran meet in the opening Group B game 48 hours after the North Africans were denied the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The team coached by Herve Renard finished their build-up with friendly wins against Slovakia and Estonia, and should look to transform that winning run to the start of their first FIFA World Cup match in 20 years.

Iran on their part will face an African opposition for the second successive time in their opening game, and should hope to improve on their goalless draw achieved against Nigeria in 2014.
The game pits the experienced Carlos Queiroz against a much younger Renard, who has excelled on the African continent and will be keen to transform his success to the global stage.

However, considering the massive task ahead for Morocco with games against Portugal and Spain still to come, and the likely hood of being pressured to earn Africa’s first win at the tournament, we tip Morocco to beat Iran.

Prediction: 1-0

Portugal vs. Spain
Date: 15/5/18
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi

The Iberia Derby between Portugal and Spain concludes Group B matches on Friday night. The build-up to the highly anticipated match took an interesting twist on Wednesday with the sack of Julen Lopetegui, the erstwhile coach of Spain by the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

In his place, legend Fernando Hierro has being named as a replacement for the tournament, but what will remain uncertain is if the results achieved by Hierro –positive and negative- will be credited to him, considering he didn’t select the team and barely had time to train the squad.

There will be numerous familiar faces on both sides of the pitch, notably Cristiano Ronaldo, who comes up against Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos, in what promises to be an intense battle between both striker and defender. Regardless of the impromptu change, the Spaniards are professionals who are quite used to coaching changes days leading up to big games at their clubs, and hence they shouldn’t be ruffled much in a game David de Gea could be the most decisive factor.

Prediction: 1-1

 

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