Egypt World Cup: How the Group A teams fared

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Goal.com tracks the performance of Egypt and all the opposition they will face in Group A in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

Mohamed Salah watched from the bench as a second-string Egypt side fell to defeat in Zurich. Russia lost once again and Romelo Lukaku gave Saudi Arabia something to think about while Group A favourites Uruguay lived up to expectations as they clinched the China Cup.

Here's a guide on how Egypt and their World Cup opponents fared during their recent international friendlies in preparation for the global showpiece.

 

Greece-Egypt

Egypt 0 v 1 Greece

Hector Cuper's decision to field a second-string Egypt side proved to be a testing experience, as they slumped to a 1-0 loss to Greece in their second World Cup warm-up match in Zurich on Tuesday.

Cuper opted to rest several key players, including Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah who scored in the 1-2 loss to Portugal on Friday. 

Egypt were undone by a Nikos Karel first-half effort as their defensive frailties were once again exposed. The Pharaoh's also conceded two headed goals in the loss to European champions on Friday after allowing Cristiano Ronaldo space inside the box at the same venue on Friday.

Cuper's men were once again exposed as they failed to deal with an inviting cross from the right, allowing Karel to sneak in between three defenders to nod home in the same fashion as Ronaldo.

The match, though, did provide the Argentine mentor a chance to test some fringe players, as he handed debuts to Ismaily goalkeeper Mohamed Awad and Enppi attacker Mohamed Magdi.

Egypt have three friendly matches remaining before their first World Cup appearance in 28 years. Cuper will be hoping to use these matches against Kuwait, Colombia and Belgium to fix his defensive concerns whilst he will be hoping that star players like Salah, Mohamed Elneny and Trezeguet remain injury free with their clubs. 

 

Benjamin Pavard Russia France Friendly 27032018.jpg

Russia 1 v 3 France

World Cup hosts Russia disappointed again, when they fell to a 1-3 defeat to France on Tuesday evening. Earlier in the match week they lost to Brazil.

Paul Pogba scored his first goal since November after Kylian Mbappe had opened the scoring in St Petersburg. Fyodor Smolov pulled a goal back for Russia in the 68th minute before Mbappe wrapped up the win with his second goal, coming seven minutes from time. Russia drew two recent matches against Iran (1-1) and Spain (3-3). 

Like Cuper, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov will surely look to use the little time remaining before the global showpiece to mend his leaking defense. The Russians have leaked in 11 goals in their last five matches and the last time they kept a clean sheet was in the 2-0 win over New Zealand in the Confederation Cup last year. Russia did win with a 3-0 score over Dinamo Moskva but that was a club vs. international side friendly in September 2017. 

 

Omar Othman and Salem Aldawsari of Saudi Arabia, Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard of Belgium friendly match on March 27, 2018 at the Koning Boudewijnstadion Stadium in Brussels, Belgium

Belgium 4 v 0 Saudi Arabia

The third Group A side, Saudi Arabia were stunned 4-0 by World Cup contenders Belgium.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and then added an assist to let Kevin De Bruyne score the final goal in the 79th minute, one minute after Michy Batshuayi netted the third. 

Saudi Arabia did have some glittering moments in the first half as Fahad Al-Muwallad forced Belgium keeper Simon Mignolet to a good save early on and also had a decent claim for a penalty in the second half.

But like Egypt and Russia, they have some defensive work to do and they also need to sharpen their passing before they open their World Cup against hosts Russia on June 14. 

 

Edinson Cavani Uruguay

Uruguay 1 v 0 Wales

Group favourites Uruguay lifted the China Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Wales in Nanning on Monday.

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Edinson Cavani's goal on his 100th international appearance was the decisive strike as the South Americans handed Ryan Giggs his first taste of defeat as manager of Wales.

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez hit the post twice as a frantic first half somehow ended goalless but the South Americans moved up a gear in the second half and Cavani gave them a deserved lead with a tap-in. The team movement was amazing. 

Suarez and Cavani displayed brilliant understanding as they combined intelligently on several occasions, creating space for each other and their team-mates with their movement and slick link-up play. Their Group A counterparts will be worried by this slick attack. Unlike Uruguay's three opponents in their World Cup group, they managed three clean-sheets in their last five outings.

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