Uruguay vs Egypt match report


‘Slow burner’ would be the diplomatic way to describe the ninety minutes of arduous work, huffing and puffing before Uruguay’s quality eventually showed in the closing moments as they beat Egypt 1-0 in Group A of the 2018 World Cup.

Truth be told, the South Americans never found their rhythm, leaving it to Jose Maria Gimenez to save their blushes. He rose high to meet a Carlos Sanchez free-kick in the 89th minute, kickstarting their campaign.

The moments of quality where fleeting, the best coming in the dying embers of the game when Edinson Cavani twice threatened the break the Egyptian hearts – first with a wicked volley from the edge of penalty area which required a marvellous save from Mohamed El-Shenawy, and shortly after with a powerful free-kick from similar range which rattled the post.

Moments after it would be heartbreak for the North African outfit when Gimenez finally broke down their resistance.

Mohamed Salah was deemed fit, but only fit enough for the bench – that did not stop the Egyptian supporters going wild whenever his face adorned the big screen.

While the current Liverpool goal machine sat on the bench, the former one toiled on the pitch. Luis Suarez looked out of sorts in, missing a golden opportunity from two yards out, his first touch eluding him, and his often-relentless energy found wanting.

La Celeste were slow and predictable for most of the first half, if they are to live up to the tag of ‘dark horses’ for the tournament they will have to elevate their performance for when they take on Saudi Arabia in Rostov next Wednesday, that should not be difficult given the Saudi’s performance against the host nation on Thursday.

Captain Diego Godin represented the 14th ranked nation’s best attacking threat for much of the game with his lung-bursting runs from defence into midfield. Frustration etched on his face as his country laboured.

Suarez’s day went from bad to worse, he spurned multiple chances and even engaged in his trademark playacting in the final seconds. El-Shenawy twice denied the Barcelona forward, first with a smart save immediately after half-time, and later when the Al Ahly goalkeeper smothered a fifty-fifty ball when the Uruguay all-time top goal scorer had taken one touch too many.

The Central Stadium was far from its maximum capacity with large sections of the venue sporting nothing but empty orange seats. However with the average price of the a ticket being 24,966 Russian Rubles (£300), over half of the average Russian monthly salary, you could hardly blame any locals for failing to turn out en masse. Still, the core of Egypt fans which had turned out created a hostile atmosphere, the chants turned to uncontrollable screeches whenever their hero, Salah, was on screen.

The African side had their moments, too, moments that made one wonder if the outcome would have been different if the Premier League golden boot winner was on the field. Mohamed Elneny shot over while Trezeguet was a constant thorn in the Uruguayan side but could not produce the final ball to genuine bother.

For now, only the win matters. But Oscar Tabarez will want to address the sluggish 80 minutes and get his side coming out of the gate quicker if they are to progress deep into the tournament.


Five potential replacements for Alexis Sanchez


Alexis Sanchez’s future is still in the air at Arsenal. The Chilean cuts an increasingly frustrated figure at Arsenal and while his manager Arsene Wenger dances to the tune of ‘He wants to stay’ the consensus is that Sanchez will be plying his trade elsewhere next season.


Should the former Barcelona forward leave The Emirates here are five potential players who could replace the dogged Chile frontman:



Anthony Martial

Club: Manchester United

Cost: £35m – £55m

A bit of a wildcard to start off with. With Jose Mourinho and Wenger’s open dislike for each other it is unlikely that Mourinho would want to sell a talented player to a rival. However, Martial is well out-of-favour with The Special One and could be offloaded this summer. Should Arsenal submit a bid which would recoup a lot – if not all – of what Louis van Gaal paid for the then teenager Mourinho may well be willing to part with the young Frenchman.


Martial offers directness, pace and can finish. He is still inconsistent Wenger will no doubt have patience with the former Monaco man and give him the love he looks like he needs.



Yannick Carrasco

Club: Atletico Madrid

Cost: £51m – £65m

Carrasco will cost a lot of money; the type of money Arsenal have never parted with. However, the Belgian is becoming a star under Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital. The winger has eight goals and four assists this season for Atletico.


An explosive winger who can play on both flanks, Carrasco causes nightmares for opposition full-backs who have a difficult time dealing with tricky wide man. Carrasco is still 23-years-old and can get better with the right nurturing.


Carrasco would bring with him the directness which Sanchez would leave behind. While the young Belgium international may cost a lot but the windfall Arsenal should receive for Sanchez, should he leave, would go a long way to bringing the Atletico Madrid winger to The Emirates. Having said that, with speculation over the future of Antoine Griezmann, Simeone will be more than reluctant to let two of his star men walk away in the same transfer window.



Mohamed Salah

Club: Roma

Cost: £30m – £40m


After failing to shine during his first brief stint in England with Chelsea Salah has gone on to light up Serie A with goals and assists galore. The Egyptian forward has 11 goals and eight assists this campaign and 27 Serie A goals in total since joining Roma in 2015.


Salah himself is still only 24-years-old, although in recent years he has felt like somewhat of a journeyman since his Chelsea move did not work out with stints at former club Basel and Fiorentina before finally settling in Rome.


The Egypt frontman has pace in abundance, can play with either foot and finish in a variety of ways. Arsenal are always looking for classy forwards and Salah has shown that he is certainly one of them. His eight assists and 60 chances created this term show he can pick a pick a pass also – perfect ammunition for Olivier Giroud, or maybe a new Arsenal forward.



Douglas Costa

Club: Bayern Munich

Cost: £22m – £30m

Douglas Costa is reportedly unhappy at Bayern Munich and is seeking a move away. Now at 26 the Brazilian is at a stage in his career where he needs regular games – which he is not getting behind Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.


Costa tore Arsenal apart during their 5-1 hammering of the Gunners in the last-16 tie of the Champions League with trickery and pace that neither Hector Bellerin nor Nacho Monreal could handle.


Costa’s inconsistency is perhaps what drives Carlo Ancelotti to leave him out of the Bayern first XI but he certainly has the ability to get Arsenal fans out of their seats. Not as direct as an out and out winger, Costa is strong on both feet and can float inside to get involved through the middle as well as beating his full-back down the line.


With his unhappiness at Bayern and the German giants seemingly happy to offload the wide man Costa would probably be the cheapest option of the list – which would probably appeal most to Wenger as he is notoriously tight with the  purse strings.



James Rodriguez

Club: Real Madrid

Cost: £45m – £55m


James is maybe the most likely player to make his way to The Emirates on this list. Not so much because he is desperate to join Arsenal or Arsenal are desperate to take him, but because Real Madrid and the Colombian have made no secret about his desire to leave and Madrid’s keenness to offload him.


James is typically a number ten but can play out wide. His goal in the 2014 World Cup against Uruguay was the stand out moment that summer and announced James to the world stage – it is also a glimpse of what he can do in a split second.


If Arsenal part ways with the £50m sum the Spanish giants are asking for then they will be getting a player that will not hound and harass defenders like Sanchez will, but will give you quality in abundance when going forward. In order for the Colombian to succeed he may need, perhaps like Mesut Ozil, a world-class holding midfielder who will pick up his lack of work ethic.


The former Monaco man has the flair that Arsene Wenger loves in a player and the technical quality which the Arsenal boss also looks for in his attacking players. He can float between the lines exposing the gaps in midfield and defence which can carve teams apart.



James is a different type of player to Sanchez – perhaps more in line with Ozil’s style of play but his quality cannot be denied and if Sanchez leaves Arsenal must replace him with quality – and James is certainly that.