Anticipation for the World Cup has been building for months. Managers of the 32 teams heading to Russia this summer are putting their plans together in terms of tactics and personnel while fans the world over are waiting for the big kick-off. If we’re honest though, Russia versus Saudi Arabia is hardly the most mouth watering opening game in World Cup history.

The Russian fans won’t care about the lack of a wow factor. They’ll just be happy with a group draw that pits their team against Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The hosts will get huge support in every match but will that be enough to see them through to the knockout stages of the competition?

Russia Could Suffer Another Humiliation

The Confederations Cup is a chance for the World Cup host to prepare themselves for the tournament to come. The Russian authorities used last year’s Confederations Cup to successfully trial logistics and security measures but things were rather less successful on the pitch for the hosts.

Stanislav Cherchesov hardly proved that he is the man to lead Russia to glory as they lost to both Mexico and Portugal having won their opening game against New Zealand. Russia were every bit as poor in the Confederations Cup as they were when failing to get out of their group at Euro 2016 and it’s tough to see what has changed since.

Russia will be boosted by the return of some key players but the signs are not good. They will struggle to beat Uruguay and could find Egypt tough to get past as well. It won’t be the feelgood story of the tournament but you could profit from another poor show from Russia by backing them not to get out of Group A at generous betting odds of 5/2 with BetVictor.

Uruguay the Worthy Favourites

As our odds comparison shows, it’s Uruguay and not Russia who are the favourites to win Group A at even money. Like the hosts, Uruguay will be delighted with a group draw which could scarcely be better for them. Oscar Tabarez’s men are comfortably the highest ranked team in the official FIFA rankings and qualified well by finishing second in the big CONMEBOL round robin.

The main concern about Uruguay is the form of their talisman, Luis Suarez. The 31-year-old has faltered somewhat for Barcelona this season and he’ll need to improve his performances in order to carry the hopes of his national side as he did in World Cups past. Uruguay are not, however, a one man team. Captain, Diego Godin, marshals the troops in defence, they have some very capable creative midfielders, while Edinson Cavani has had a very good season with PSG and is 5/4 to be his nation’s top scorer in Russia.

Uruguay won’t be winning the third World Cup of their history but we predict they look a good bet to win Group A at evens with Coral.

How Far Can Salah Take Egypt?

What a season it’s been for Mohamed Salah. Liverpool fans only had modest ambitions for their new signing when the speedy winger arrived from Roma but his performance levels reached world class so quickly that the loss of Philippe Coutinho has barely registered in the red half of Merseyside.

It’s not just at Anfield where Salah is revered. He is just as important to Egypt as he is to his club side (he was the top scorer in the third round of CAF qualification) and any hopes that Héctor Cúper’s team have rest heavily on Salah’s shoulders. He’s not been weighed down by expectation yet this season and can score the goals that take Egypt through to the knockout stage, an outcome you can back at a tempting 6/4 with Betfair.

Little Hope for Saudi Arabia

It’s hardly been a textbook preparation for Saudi Arabia. Having guided the team to the World Cup, Bert van Marwijk left his role as Saudi Arabia manager because he fell out with the national FA over his contract. That left the Falcons scrambling for a new manager and Juan Antonio Pizzi is the man tasked with guiding them in Russia.

To say that Pizzi has his work cut out for him is an understatement. The vast majority of his squad play their domestic football in Saudi Arabia which isn’t the highest standard. They’ll do very well to avoid defeat in just one of their matches and won’t be extending their stay in Russia beyond the group stage.


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