Friday 15th June is a busy day at the FIFA World Cup, as we see the second game of Group A and also the first games of Group B. Here is what is happening on a fun-filled day of football
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Egypt v Uruguay (kick-off 1 PM)
This clash sees two teams with very different World Cup pedigrees clash. Egypt will be playing at just their third World Cup, while the South American giants will be playing at their 12th finals, having won the competition way back in 1930 and 1950.
Egypt are very much looking to Liverpool star Mohamed Salah to inspire the knockout stages for the first time. Salah scored the goal that got the Pharaohs to the World Cup but is a doubt for this opening game.
The North African team have endured poor preparation for the tournament, as new head coach Hector Cuper has yet to win in five games in charge of the team.
Uruguay are the favourites to qualify from Group B for the knockout stages. Their status is unsurprisingly considering they have quality players such as Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in their squad.
La Celeste heads into this clash on the back of three straight wins, in which they did not concede a goal.
Uruguay win and over 2.5 goals
Morocco v Iran (Kick-off 4 PM)
Morocco and Iran kick-off Group B with an afternoon clash in St Petersburg. The pair are both making their fifth appearance at World Cup finals, but are the underdogs to make the knockout stages of the competition.
Morocco built their qualification for Russia 2018 on solid defensive displays, as they kept clean sheets in their last six games in qualifying. The North African side have also not lost in their last 18 international matches.
Iran are rank outsiders to qualify for the last 16 under the experienced Carlos Queiroz. The Asian nation enjoyed a good qualifying campaign. In fact, they were the second team to qualify for this summer’s World Cup behind favourites Brazil.
Iran’s World Cup preparations have produced mixed results. However, Queiroz’s team have lost just twice in 16 international matches.
Morocco win and under 2.5 goals
Portugal v Spain (Kick-off 7 PM)
Iberian neighbours Portugal and Spain are favourites to win the group and go head-to-head in Sochi on Friday night.
The game has been overshadowed by the fact Spanish boss Julen Lopetegui was fired on Wednesday after agreeing to become the next Real Madrid boss.
Portugal head into this summer’s World Cup as reigning European champions. The Selecao qualified for Russia 2018 by winning nine of their ten qualifiers in a strong campaign.
Fernando Santos’ team have enjoyed mixed results in recent games, winning just one of their last internationals. Last time out they recorded a 3-0 win over Algeria to head into this clash in good heart.
The Lopetegui debacle has definitely proven an unwanted distraction just a day before the start of the World Cup. The former World champions qualified for this summer’s World Cup by topping a group containing fellow European heavyweights Italy, scoring a whopping 36 goals, while conceding just three.
La Roja are also 20 games unbeaten. However, the whole Lopetegui situation is unlikely to help to maintain their focus in Russia. They have a lot of making up to do after exiting the competition at group stage four years ago, so the speculation over the coach’s future is not the best preparations for Russia 2018.
Low scoring draw
Who will win the opening games of Group A and B on Friday?