Saudi Arabia and Egypt have only pride left to play for

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have only pride left to play for

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Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Sunday, June 24, 16:00BST/17:00CEST/18:00 MSK – Volgograd-Arena, Volgograd, Russia

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt will take place at the Volgograd Arena (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt will take place at the Volgograd Arena (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

There is nothing to play for but honour when the Green Falcons from Saudi Arabia face Les Pharaons from Egypt. Both countries lost their first two games at the World Cup and are now eliminated.

Saudi Arabia had a catastrophic first match against Russia in the opening game of the tournament. The Sbornaya powered past them scoring five goals never allowing the Green Falcons room to breath.

The second match went better and showed that football has progressed to a certain extent in Saudi Arabia. Holding Uruguay to a draw until the dying moments of the game the dream of reaching the next round seemed still alive. Ultimately, Uruguay got a late winner knocking Saudi Arabia out.

Egypt’s campaign, in the meantime, was also disappointing. Based in Chechnya the football federation came under fire for buddying up with President Ramzan Kadyrov. Meanwhile, superstar Mohamed Salah, who was used or abused for political purposes by posing with pictures with Kadyrov and becoming an honorary citizen of Chechnya, struggled with an injury throughout the tournament.

That injury sustained at the Champions League final kept him away from the opening match and he never seemed fit in the second match against Russia as the Sbornaya impressed against Les Pharaons to take all three points.

One of the big questions is whether Salah will feature in the last match. Obviously, not fit to play yet he may opt out and nurse his shoulder in order to return match fit to England after the tournament. That approach makes sense given that there will be nothing to play for on matchday 3.

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Players to look out for:

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi #10 – Saudi-Arabia (Al-Nasser Riad)

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi has one thing in common with Robert Lewandowski. Both managed to score 16 goals in World Cup qualifying. Eight of those goals, however, were scored against East Timor – the Green Falcons scored 17 goals (7-0 and 10-0) in the two matches against the East Asian side. There is no doubt that Al-Sahlawi is Saudi Arabia’s best striker, but can he finally translate his game to the World Cup? Against other top sides from Asia Al-Sahlawi has struggled only scoring once – in a 3-2 defeat to Australia. In recent friendlies against Moldova, Ukraine, Belgium, Algeria, Greece, Peru and Germany – Al-Sahlawi was left without a goal.

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals during Saudi Arabia’s World Cup qualification campaign (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals during Saudi Arabia’s World Cup qualification campaign (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Mohamed Elneny #17 – Egypt (Arsenal)

With Mohamed Salah possibly skipping this one, Egypt will heavily rely on another Premier League star. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder has played in just 13 English Premier League games for Arsenal this season. At the same time, Elneny has played 12 games in the Europa League as his club side Arsenal advanced all the way to the final where they were eliminated by Atlético Madrid.

Mohamed Elneny has collected plenty of experience in the Europa League this season (STEVE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mohamed Elneny has collected plenty of experience in the Europa League this season (STEVE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Match Stats

  • This is the first meeting since the two nations faced each other at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup. Saudi Arabia won that match 5-1.
  • In all of their five tournaments, Saudi Arabia have faced African opposition. Of the four previous matches Saudi Arabia only won one (1994 against Morocco) drew two and lost one.
  • Egypt conceded their last eight goals at a World Cup in the second half

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – 0-3

Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – Lineups

Saudi Arabia:

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Al Owais – Al-Harbi, Omar Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Al-Shahrani – Otayf – Al-Shehri, Al-Jassim, Al-Faraj, Al-Dawsari – Al-Sahlawi

Head Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi

Egypt:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

El Hadary – Abdel-Shafi, Gabr, Hegazy, Ahmed Fathi – Hamed, Elneny – Sobhi, Said, Warda – Mohsen

Head Coach: Héctor Cúper

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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