Two-time World Cup champions Uruguay open action on Friday, taking on an Egypt team in the tournament for the first time in nearly 30 years. Both teams feature a dynamic striker, but all the hype for this match has been around one man. Or, more specifically, one shoulder. Mohamed Salah is reportedly close to full-strength, providing a huge boost to Egypt heading into group play.
Uruguay vs. Egypt Odds
Even with Salah in the roster Uruguay are favored, a moderate -170 on the moneyline. Egypt are the massive underdog on the three-way moneyline, getting +660 for an outright win.
Uruguay are a slim spread underdog, laying a goal at -102 on 5Dimes. Egypt are the favorite when getting a goal (-113), signaling that this match is a toss-up to bookmakers.
The total is set at 2, with the over slightly favored at -140.
Uruguay vs. Egypt Prediction
Despite the flash of Suarez and Cavani up top, I’m not sold on this Uruguay squad. They struggled against the other top South American teams in qualifying, reaching Russia by beating up on the likes of Bolivia and Ecuador. When faced with European opponents they’ve similarly struggled, although they did knock off Wales in a 1-0 friendly before heading to Russia.
That being said, this is by far the most experienced team in Group A. Four players on Uruguay have more than 100 caps, while every player on Egypt’s roster will be making their World Cup debut on Friday.
Egypt’s rise in the international game is directly tied to Salah, who is literally and painstakingly shouldering the hopes for Egypt. If Salah has an electric performance in Russia, the Ballon d’Or is very much in play for the Liverpool star.
Outside of Salah, however, the team leaves much to be desired. Manager Hector Cuper tends to favor a conservative style, so it’ll be interesting to see how much support Egypt give Salah up top.
Whereas Salah has to deal with Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin, Luis Suarez should be able to find space against an inexperienced Egyptian defense. At 31, this is likely the last formidable trip for both Suarez and Cavani, and their reputation is not great. Cavani has been a no-show for most of his international career, and Suarez has caused controversy at each of the last two World Cups, most recently biting Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil. That, and any situation where Suarez gets suspended, would spell the end of Uruguay’s international run.
That being said, this team has more than enough quality to defeat Egypt. Somehow, I still think Salah scores because he’s that good but Uruguay should cruise to victory.
Prediction: Uruguay win 3-1