The fact that we’ve chosen to start with the Egyptian team may seem a strange one at first glance. Sure they have Salah and a pair of former Premier League defenders in Ahmed Hegazy and Ali Gabr, but what makes them worthy of their own article? Simple. They have a double game week to start the World Cup.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of a double game week, this means that certain players, in this case Egyptian ones will play two matches in one “week” which gives them an advantage over all other players and the opportunity to rack up serious Fantasy points.
Obviously Mohamed Salah would have been in just about everyone’s squad had he made it out of the Champions League final unharmed, but unfortunately that’s not the case with reports that he will miss their first match against Uruguay. Assuming that is indeed the true, let’s take a look at some other Egyptian Fantasy options.
GK: Essam El Hadary, £5.5m
El Hadary had a fairly productive season for Al-Tawoon of the Saudi Professional League, finishing top five in clean sheet rate at 23 per cent. For the national team, he started five of their six matches, picking up two clean sheets in the process. He sits behind a defence that ranks 20th out of the 32 teams headed to Russia - which may just be in the goldilocks zone for saves and clean sheet opportunities.
Their group isn’t profoundly difficult, with just one of the opposing sides ranking in the top 15 in goals per 90 during qualifiers and, surprisingly that country is Saudi Arabia (not Uruguay). Obviously there are better goalkeepers available in the Goal game, but can any of them score more in one game than El Hadary can score in two?
DEF: Ahmed Hegazi, £5.5m
Hegazi started off his Premier League career in stunning fashion, with a goal on his debut and clean sheets in three of his first five matches. Unfortunately, West Brom struggled mightily under both Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew but, even with that, the Egyptian centre half had the second best value (points per price) by the end of the season.
For his national side he kept the same two clean sheets as El Hadary and, like his ‘keeper, is all but guaranteed to start both matches in the opening game week. Costing just £5.5m, Hegazy is not even in the top 100 in price at his position, which makes him a huge steal even if Egypt only managed one clean sheet from their two chances.
MID: Abdallah El-Said, £5.4m
If Mohamed Salah does miss out with his shoulder injury, the attacking onus will fall on El-Said. He was the only other player to score multiple goals (two) for Egypt during qualifying and sits only behind the Liverpool man in all-time goals (six) among active players.
Despite not setting up any goals during qualifiers, he did notch an impressive 10 assists for El Ahly and Egyptian manager Hector Cuper will certainly be hoping El Said brings that kind of creativity with him to Russia. As for the matchups the Egyptian attack face the least resistance of anyone at the world cup as every team they face sits 25th, or worse, in defence. At £5.4m, El-Said is a fantastic sleeper worth owning in your Goal team.
FOR: Marwan Mohsen, £5.5m
This is where things get really speculative. Most assumed that Ahmed Hassan would start up front for Egypt at the World cup, as no other Egyptian forward had more than one start in qualifying, but he didn’t even make the 23-man squad. So who will fill that role?
The favourite at the moment seems to be Marwan Mohsen, who started their most recent friendlies against Colombia and Belgium, but he failed to make a single start in qualifying, let alone score. Fortunately, in the Goal game, you are able to finalise your squad after lineups have been announced so you can wait until the Egypt team is announced before gambling on whichever forward ends up starting against Uruguay.