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Talking Points: Are Russia the dark-horses of FIFA World Cup 2018?

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The hosts have now scored eight goals in their two opening games.

An own goal from Ahmed Fathy, a smart finish from Denis Cheryshev and an exquisite side-footer from Artem Dzyuba were enough to hand a convincing 3-1 to Russia over Egypt. Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah scored the consolation goal from a penalty for the African nation, but it was too little, too late.

Russia were tactically far superior to Egypt and made the most of the occasion, being voraciously supported by the majority the fans in the stadium. The two goalkeepers, along with Yuri Zhirkov and Mario Fernandes were instrumental in securing a huge victory for the host nation, which effectively secures their entry into the knockout stages. For Egypt, poor performances in the middle of the park, as well as several defensive lapses, cost them the game.



Watch: Russia 3-1 Egypt highlights

We bring you the five talking points from the FIFA World Cup match between Russia and Egypt.

5. Elneny is nowhere as good as he is made out to be

Mohamed Elneny was one of the big names for Egypt and he was expected to deliver the goods in this do-or-die match. However, his impact was minimal as he was mostly restricted to running around the pitch and passing sideways or backwards when in possession. On the other hand, his counterpart in the Russian midfield Roman Zobnin was far more effective and displayed real vibrancy in his performance.

Egypt take on Saudi Arabia next in Group A. Russia face Uruguay in the final round of fixtures.

4. Egypt are effectively out of the World Cup

Two losses in two games mean that Egypt are effectively out of the tournament. A lot was expected from the Pharaohs, but a combination of injuries, poor tactics and inability to step up the tempo when required have cost them a place in the nockout stages.

3. Russia are the tournament’s dark-horses

Many fans and pundits alike had pointed out Salah’s Egypt to be the dark-horses of the tournament, but it seems that title must go to Russia now. The hosts have scored eight goals in two games, conceding just one and are looking unstoppable at the moment.

Their last game is against Uruguay and at the moment, it is nothing more than a formality since they have almost made it to the Round of 16. They have now made the best start ever by a host nation in a FIFA World Cup, bettering 1934’s Italy by conceding one goal less.


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2.  Salah flattered to deceive

A lot of newsprint was devoted to Salah before the game with a few stating that he may not have recovered fully from his shoulder injury. If the game was anything to go by, it seems that he has. However, lack of quality upfront as well as poor service from his teammates, meant that he could not do much other than dispatching the penalty which he had earned in the first place.

1. Golovin and Cheryshev could be superstars soon

After a sensational outing in the first game against Saudi Arabia, both Golovin and Cheryshev were on song again. The former tormented the Egyptian full-backs throughout the game, while the latter helped the hosts double their lead right before the hour mark.

Cheryshev, who is apparently a Juventus target now has three goals in the tournament and is currently level with Cristiano Ronaldo on the top scorer’s list. Both these youngsters, if moulded and taken care of properly, have the potential to be the next big thing in European football.

Published: Wed Jun 20, 2018 01:36 PM IST

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