All eyes on Salah ahead of Group A clash

Mo Salah has had a sensational season for Liverpool this year, but he’s also enjoyed a meteoric rise to the ranks of national hero. His five goals in six World Cup qualifiers led Egypt to their first World Cup in almost 30 years, but now there’s a chance he could miss their opening game.

The Liverpool forward injured his shoulder in the Champions League Final last month, and whilst he has declared himself fit to play, there are still doubts surrounding him. Whether the manager will risk him for their opener remains to be seen, but without him they will really struggle to make an impact here.

Egypt’s warm up games haven’t been overly promising either. They were well beaten at the hands of Belgium last week, with that 3-0 loss following on from a goalless draw against Colombia. They are now winless in six games and have lost three of them, so confidence isn’t exactly sky high ahead of the big kickoff.

Uruguay, unusually, have opted for only a single warm up friendly ahead of the tournament. They hammered Uzbekistan 3-0, and after their duo of China Cup wins in March they have now won three matches on the bounce and kept a clean sheet throughout.

It’s not exactly surprising that they are solid at the back. Their first choice centre backs consist of the impeccable Atletico Madrid duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, and they balance that out with the world class talents of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front.

Suarez might get most of the plaudits at domestic level, but Cavani has been the star of Uruguay’s show recently. He topped the scoring charts of the South American World Cup qualifying stage, netting ten goals in their 18 games. He has continued in that vein with a goal in three of Uruguay’s last four matches, so we fancy him to get on the scoresheet here.

As far as the overall result goes, it’s hard to look beyond Uruguay here. We think it’s unlikely that Salah will be risked in a game they are likely to lose anyway, especially when coming up against the mean defence of Godin and Gimenez. Three of Uruguay’s last four victories have seen them win by more than a single goal margin as well, so we like the look of Uruguay -1.0 Asian Handicap here.

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