Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt surely expected their Russia 2018 campaigns to go drastically different. The Green Falcons and the Pharaohs were soundly dominated by Group A beasts in Russia and Uruguay, and all that will be left to play for on Monday morning will be pride.
For Egypt, many foresaw this tournament going much longer. Their star talent Mohamed Salah entered in fine form from Liverpool, and with a sturdy defense – many saw them being able to get through a relatively weakened Group A. A late loss to Uruguay crushed them, and then they were blitzed by a surprising high-octane Russian attack in their second match. Now the Egyptians will look to show their mettle in their final match at the World Cup, and hope to be able to score some goals in the process.
The Saudis didn’t enter with the same hopes of Egypt. They were bad and frankly nobody expected them to be good. They were embarrassed in their opening match against Russia, and did a bit better against Uruguay – but there’s an obvious disparity between the Green Falcons and their opponents in this tournament. Like Egypt, they’re hoping to perhaps show they can score a goal or two and leave Russia on a high note for the future.
Even though little is on the line in terms of knockout stage qualification, there are still some solid betting opportunities to exploit. It’s rare when two squads like this get World Cup exposure, so you better believe they’ll still be eager to perform. Read on below the odds for how I see the match playing out and my official betting selection to end Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s World Cup campaigns.
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt Betting Odds:
Saudi Arabia (+350)
Over 2.5 (+115)
Under 2.5 (-135)
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt Pick:
Saudi Arabia enters this match likely battling with Panama to not be the worst side at the World Cup. Both are in dire situations in terms of goal differential, but at least with Panama they scored a goal. The Green Falcons will likely press hard to do the same and net one, but that could backfire against Egypt.
For starters, Egypt presents a very stout defense – and one that looked great for most of the Russian match. Mo Salah and Egypt know they’ve disappointed a nation, but they realize they can salvage their experience a bit with a solid final showing. This is still a bright generation of Egyptian soccer talent, and there are hopes for more successes going forward.
Expect Saudi Arabia’s coach to make some adjustments with the lineup – with an emphasis on giving some more youth an opportunity. It’s believed that Yasser Al-Mosailem will be between the posts come Monday morning – which would make that Saudi Arabia’s third keeper in as many matches. So much for continuity! There’s been an overriding theme of turmoil within the Saudi camp and in their preparations for the World Cup, and it’s clearly shown.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, the Egyptians are not eager to get this tournament over with and head back home. They feel hard done by given their opening two clashes, and know they’re a much better program. Hector Cuper as manager is well-aware of this and expect him to have his team prepared to send a final message against a weak Saudi Arabia squad. Egypt don’t have the same injury concerns of Saudi Arabia, and I’d look for the attacking trio of Salah, Trezeguet, and Mohamed El-Shenawy to be able to have their way with the Saudi midfield and create a bunch of chances.
There just isn’t enough depth within the Saudi lineup to either create chances or prevent them. Their defense is awful and badly past its prime, and look for Mo Salah to go out with a bang at Russia 2018. I’d expect the Egyptians to fight a lot harder for a result than Saudi Arabia, and in a match with nothing but pride on the line – look for both squads to really push forward and seek out goals. In the end, Egypt’s defense is much better than the Saudi attack, and on the other side I’d expect Salah to make a difference on offense for the Pharaohs. Look for a comfortable Egyptian win.
MY PICK = Egypt (-115)