Russia will once again start as the favourite as they take on the unfancied Egyptians on their home turf. The host nation were dominant in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, although to be fair the Arab nation were the masters of their own demise. The match between Egypt and Uruguay was of a much higher calibre, and Russia will need to be careful not to be over-confident coming into this one.
Russia move on to play against Uruguay in their final fixture, so they will know their hardest challenge is still to follow, while for Egypt, it’s all downhill after their difficult test against the South Americans – they will face Saudi Arabia in their final match and will be the favourite to get a result.
Egypt remain well ahead of Russia in the FIFA world Rankings, despite being the fourth best African nation at the World Cup. Some will argue that the host nation’s position on the FIFA standings is due to their lack of competitive soccer over the last 24 months (they of course were not required to qualify for this event), and they could well have a point considering how the home side performed in their opening match.
Still, history is on their side. Host nations average three wins at the World Cup, and almost always progress from the group stage. With that in mind, you would have to think that Russia are worthy favourites, although we’re not so sure that they can get over the line against a Egyptian side that is defensively resolute against most opponents. The Russian strikeforce certainly doesn’t possess the same quality as the Uruguayans.
With that in mind, the +102 on offer for Russia is probably a good indication of how close this match will be. The draw provides reasonable value at +229, while Egypt will enter as outsiders, priced at +281. There’s a great chance for an Egyptian upset victory here, although with so much on the line we can see both side’s failing to take the chances required to win this match.
For this reason, we are predicting a draw in this one. We’re thinking a 0-0, although 1-1 is also a likely scoreline. Egypt don’t often ship more than one goal in a match under Hector Cuper, and rarely score too many themselves, while Russia will face a much sturdier defence in this match than they did against Saudi Arabia.