World Cup Finals Russia 2018 Previews & Betting Tips: Group A
Which countries feature in Group A?
Russia, the host nation, are the top seed in Group A and accompanying them are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay.
What are the fixtures?
14th June 2018
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Russia vs Saudi Arabia
15th June 2018
Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg
Egypt vs Uruguay
19th June 2018
Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg
Russia vs Egypt
20th June 2018
Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
25th June 2018
Cosmos Arena, Samara
Uruguay vs Russia
25th June 2018
Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt
How is Group A shaping up?
Home advantage counts for something but for Russia, it hasn’t been overly helpful in the last two years. Three of their four matches this year have been on home soil and they are winless in all (D1, L2). Add in a defeat in Austria last week and their form is abysmal in 2017-18.
Retreating into 2016/17 is no better; three wins in nine (D2, L4) against poor opposition – Ghana, New Zealand, and Romania – isn’t inspiring the home support. However, these were friendlies and competitive matches are different.
This is Russia’s weakness; two years of non-competition matches isn’t suited to them. Euro 2016 was a low starting point and they lack the sharpness as a unit that is needed if they are to progress. Their overall form is poor, home and away; one win in six (D2, L3) which opens the way for a fight for second place.
The primary beneficiary will be Egypt, buoyed by the news that Mo Salah is expected to recover from the shoulder injury which forced him out of the Champions League final. It’s impossible to understate his importance to the Egyptians.
Thirty-three goals in 57 caps make him by far and away the top scorer in the squad. Indeed, he has scored more than the rest of the squad combined. Keep Salah quiet and Egypt can be subdued as well.
Goals are an issue, even when he is in the side. Only once have the Pharaohs scored more than one goal in the last ten games, of which have they won two (D3, L5). A goalless draw with Colombia was encouraging but only hints that they may push Russia for the runners-up spot.
Saudi Arabia are favourites to lose all three games. Nine unbeaten in 17 games this year (W7, D2) isn’t too bad and the Green Falcons warm-up is on course. Four games since the start of May; two home wins, two away defeats. Hardly surprising given it was Italy and Peru they faced.
With just a match against Germany to come, it’s difficult to see anything changing between now and 14th June 2018. The Saudis haven’t scored more than one goal in any away match in 2018; there’s little sign of that trend reversing once the World Cup finals begin.
Uruguay are the final contestants in the group and clear favourites to win. They finished second in the South American qualifying section behind all-conquering Brazil. With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani determined to make an impact in their last World Cup finals, the formidable attack has extra motivation.
The Celeste are coached by the wily Oscar Tabarez who takes the prize for the oldest coach at the tournament. His experience is second to none and he has forged a strong unit They end 2016/17 with four consecutive defeats but this season suffered just one defeat in eight (W4, D3) and have yet to concede a goal in 2018.
Betting Tips for World Cup Group A
It’s impossible to look beyond Uruguay as the group winners. They have the depth in their squad in both defence and attack. Second depends on which Egypt turns up and their meeting with Russia could well decide who joins the South Americans in the Round of Sixteen. Our betting tips suggestions for World Cup Group A are Uruguay and Russia to qualify further.
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