Egypt’s hopes of progressing through to the round of 16 have been all but ended after their 3-1 defeat to Russia in St. Petersburg
Prior to kick off, Egypt were boosted by the announcement that Mohamed Salah would return to the starting XI after sustaining an injury in the Champions League final. Egypt were hoping with the return of Salah to pick up a vital three points after a relatively impressive performance against Uruguay, but this was not to be the case.
From the start of the first half, Russia put a lot of pressure on Egypt and created a number of chances, rattling the Egyptian defence. Mohamed Salah was contained extremely well by the Russia defenders who remained very tight to him, not allowing him to get much of the ball.
Salah was instructed by Cúper to play very high up the pitch to try and counter-attack, however, this was useless as Egypt were never able to counter and get the ball to him quickly enough. It was extremely disappointing to not see him get involved in the game by coming in deeper to get the ball.
Russia’s three goals came within a 15-minute spell that cost Egypt their place in the World Cup. The first goal came two minutes after the restart when Ahmed Fathi sliced his attempted clearance and rather unluckily scored an own goal.
Thing’s got worse as Cheryshev slotted home a low cross from six yards out after poor defending from Egypt’s defenders Ahmed Hegazi and Ahmed Fathi. Dzyuba put the dagger in Egypt’s hearts in the 62nd minute when he scored an excellent individual goal, flicking the ball over Aly Gabr and slotting home.
Mohamed Elneny had one of his worst performances in an Egypt shirt, giving the ball away on a number of occasions and not getting involved in any of Egypt’s attacks. He was substituted off after 64 minutes for the more attacking Amr Warda who played on the wing, but it was a substitution which happened too late for Egypt.
Egypt’s manager has been heavily criticised over the last couple of years for his style of play and management. Héctor Cúper dictates a regimented defensive style of play which is seen as extremely negative. By playing two CDMs and not allowing the full-backs to attack it makes it difficult for the attackers to get the ball high up the pitch.
Cúper’s reliance of setting the team up to defend and sit back has worked against weaker African opposition. However, against stronger sides Egypt have struggled to react after conceding, as their main goal is to keep a clean sheet and nick a goal on the counter-attack. The Argentine’s future as the Egypt manager is under threat with reports circulating that the Egyptian FA have already planned to sack him after the World Cup.
Egypt were all but out after the match, and Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed their fate. Egyptian fans left St Petersburg with a sense of disappointment with the negative manner in which Egypt went into this tournament. After waiting so long to qualify the fans expected a lot more from the team.