World Cup 2018: Top 5 Group Games to Watch
- These five World Cup group stage fixtures simply cannot be missed
On paper, the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup may seem like an exercise in futility. Every edition has a 'Group of Death' where heavyweights face off but this edition has seen a more balanced draw.
Nevertheless, with 48 group stage fixtures to play, there are a number of games that will not only decide who tops the group (and gets a relatively easier draw in the knockout stages) but also have the capacity to entertain fans and neutrals alike.
Here are five group stage fixtures that any football fan cannot miss when the World Cup kicks off in Russia.
#5 Egypt vs Uruguay (15 June)
Egypt and Uruguay face off in the second match of the World Cup and it promises to get the tournament off to a flying start. The two sides are in the same group along with hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia but are favourites to qualify for the Round of 16.
However, the result from this game could set the tone and early pressure to qualify for the knockout stages. And the hopes of the African country now rest on one man to return to action as soon as possible.
Egyptian hero and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah played only 30 minutes of the Champions League final before he was substituted after injuring his shoulder when battling for the ball with Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos.
Salah's diagnosis is that he could make a return to the field before the World Cup. Even Uruguay striker Luis Suarez hoped he would be available having gone through the same with a knee injury prior to the 2014 World Cup.
"Regarding Salah, the reality is that no one is happy when a colleague suffers an injury, even more so when that happens in a match as it did, just before a World Cup," Suarez said at a press conference.
"He is in a difficult situation, but I've consistently said I always want to play against the best to demonstrate that Uruguay are better. I would love him to have a good recovery and enjoy the World Cup. He is in the same situation as me four years ago and I don't wish this on anyone."
With veteran coach Oscar Tabarez managing the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, they will be up against players such as Salah in attack and the sprightly Mohamed Elneny in midfield, not to mention goalkeeper Mohamed Elneny - the oldest player in World Cup history at 45.
For Uruguay, it could be a warm-up tie for things to come. For Egypt, it is a chance at redemption after qualifying for their first World Cup since 1990 and a chance to put their violent football past behind them.