Simon Mail thinks World Cup hosts Russia will not have it all their own way in their game against Egypt...
"Mohamed Salah scored 44 goals for Liverpool this season and the world class attacker was also integral to Egypt's qualification with five goals in as many games."
Russia v Egypt
Live on BBC One
Hosts make dominant start to competition
World Cup hosts Russia came into the tournament with pessimism surrounding them after a seven-match winless run but the negativity was lifted emphatically in the opening match. Stanislav Cherchesov's team romped to a 5-0 win over a woeful Saudi Arabia in Moscow as they made a mockery of the world rankings which listed them as the weakest side in the competition.
Key player Alan Dzagoev was taken off with an injury but substitute Denis Cheryshev took his chance with two goals from off the bench. Playmaker Aleksandr Golovin crowned his influential performance with a superb free-kick in the victory. It was the perfect start for Russia, in their bid to qualify from the group, although it would be wise not to get carried away by it considering the dismal standard of Saudi Arabia's performance.
Egypt bidding for first World Cup win
Egypt were stubborn opponents in their opening game but their defensive gameplan came unstuck late on as Jose Gimenez's 89th minute header gave Uruguay a 1-0 victory on Friday. It was tough on Hector Cuper's side after a dogged display but their limited tactics eventually backfired.
Mohamed Salah remained on the bench for the whole game with the Liverpool forward still working his way back to fitness after his shoulder injury in the Champions League final. This was an understandable decision because Egypt's hopes of qualification were always likely to rest on their last two group games so he must surely start against Russia in Saint Petersburg.
Russia are [2.2] favourites to claim back-to-back World Cup wins and this may look tempting after their convincing first victory. However the hosts have not become a great side overnight and this match will be significantly tougher than their one-sided opener. Their opponents will set up defensively and Russia will not be afforded the freedom of Moscow which they were generously given by Saudi Arabia.
Egypt are [4.0] for the victory but this does not look big enough to warrant a bet. The Pharaohs have never won a game at the World Cup and it will be difficult for them to get off the mark at the expense of the home nation. There was a lack of attacking quality against Uruguay so Salah will have to play a major role if Egypt are to make history with a long-awaited win.
The draw is available at [3.3] and could be worth a second glance. Egypt's first priority, with defence to the fore under Cuper, will be to make themselves difficult to beat as they know a defeat will end their hopes of progressing. Russia's five goals have put them in a strong position and mean a point would also not be a terrible result for them. Ultimately, this market looks precarious and probably worth avoiding with all three results realistic propositions.
Salah will have to make a significant contribution if Egypt are to upset the hosts and qualify from Group A and there is value in backing him to score against Russia. Salah scored 44 goals for Liverpool this season and the world class attacker was also integral to Egypt's qualification with five goals in as many games. The 26-year-old should be able to punish a suspect defence.
Prior to Russia's win over Saudi Arabia, the side had gone eight matches without keeping a clean sheet. Instead of being an odds-on shot to score, as Salah so often was this season, he is available at generous odds of 15/8 which simply have to be taken. Using Betfair's new Same Game Multi feature in the Sportsbook, you can combine bets with both Salah and Russia's Cheryshev to score on offer at huge odds of [14.93].
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
Key Opta Stats for Russia v Egypt
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia are unbeaten against African opposition at the World Cup (W2 D1). This includes a 6-1 win against Cameroon in 1994, with Oleg Salenko scoring five goals. Russia are [2.2] to win.
Egypt have never beaten European opposition at the World Cup, drawing two and losing two of their four games. The draw is [3.3].
Russia’s 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia was the second biggest ever by a host nation in their opening match at a World Cup tournament, after Italy vs USA in 1934 (7-1). They are [3.8] to win half-time/full-time.
Since the split up of the USSR, Russia have never reached the knockout stages of the World Cup in three appearances (1994, 2002, 2014). They have finished third in their group in each of those three editions. You can lay Russia to qualify at [1.2].
Russia (5) have already scored more goals in this tournament than they did in both 2014 (2) and 2002 (4), their last two appearances at the World Cup. Over 2.5 goals is [2.58].
No African team has played as many World Cup games without winning a single one than Egypt (D2 L3). Russia are [1.53] in the Draw No Bet market.
Egypt have failed to score in each of their last three World Cup matches, last finding the net in the competition against Netherlands on 12/06/1990. Under 2.5 goals is [1.62].
Russia’s Aleksandr Golovin has already been involved in three goals in this World Cup (1 goal, 2 assists). Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the only player to have been involved in more goals for Russia in a single tournament was Oleg Salenko in 1994 (6 goals, 1 assist). Golovin is [4.5] to score.