Russia and Saudi Arabia got us started on Thursday. A 5 – 0 scoreline certainly flatters Russia, but I believe this was more Saudi Arabia than the host nation. Saudi Arabia attempted to play a Barcelona tica-tika style through the middle but looked more like my rec league team than the Spanish champions.
On to Day Two…
Egypt – Uruguay 7 AM CT (Set your alarms)
The moment Mo Salah went down injured in the champions league final everyone wondered if he would make it back in time for the opener. Reports suggest that Salah should be ready to go on Thursday. While that should provide a huge boost to Egypt, a one man show isn’t going to be enough to topple Uruguay. Cavani and Suarez may be the best strike force in the tournament and I fully expect one, if not both, to get on the scoresheet.
Player to watch on Egypt (not named Mo Salah) :
Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)
Player to watch on Uruguay (not named Luis Suarez) :
Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
Uruguay 3 Egypt 1
Morocco – Iran 10 AM CT
Morocco has been talked about as possibly being able to sneak out of this group if Spain or Portugal slip up. Taking all three points against Iran is a must if they want to do so. I expect this game to be pretty low scoring with Morocco’s strong defense, led by Benatia, keeping a clean sheet.
Player to watch on Morocco:
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax)
Player to watch on Iran:
Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan)
Morocco 1 Iran 0
Portugal – Spain 1 PM CT (Don’t miss this one)
What a game to cap off day two. There is no doubt Spain come in as favorites but firing your coach a day before the World Cup may cause some people to second guess. Portugal is going to need someone else beside Ronaldo to step if they want to get anything out of this one. I expect Portugal to sit back a little bit and try to hit Spain on the counter with Ronaldo and company .
Player to watch on Portugal (not named Ronaldo):
Bernardo Silva (Man City)
Player to watch on Spain:
Isco (Real Madrid)
Spain 2 Portugal 0