Saudi Arabia 2-1 Egypt: Pharaohs empty handed and humiliated

Things got even worse for Egypt as they were beaten by Arab rivals Saudi Arabia in their final group game picking up no points in the process.

Prior to the game, Egypt were boosted by the return to the starting XI of captain and 45-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who became the oldest player to play in a World Cup game.

The pharaohs took the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute when Abdallah Said played a long ball down the middle over the two Saudi Arabian defenders, which Salah managed to latch on to and lob over the goalkeeper, Yasser Almosailem.

Just three minutes later Salah had the opportunity to double Egypt’s lead after beating the high lined offside trap. He was one-on-one with the keeper but managed to unbelievably chip wide.

Two minutes before halftime Saudi Arabia won a penalty after a low cross hit the trailing arm of Ahmed Fathi. The penalty seemed harsh as his arm was behind him and he had no awareness of the ball. Essam El Hadary, who has been a penalty-saving specialist over his long career, made the headlines yet again with an excellent save to parry the ball onto the bar and save the penalty.

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Russia 3-1 Egypt: Salah shackled, Elneny poor and Cuper out?

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.

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Salah, Firmino & Mane all make Twelve’s top 5 Liverpool players, but should Lovren and Matip be there too?

Using algorithms and points to assess the performance of footballers is nothing new. But how do Twelve shape up against the likes of WhoScored and Squakwa? I’ve taken a look at Twelve’s stats for Liverpool’s players to see if their ranking for the Reds’ player of the year matches what Kopites would believe.

However cynical you might be about football statistics, and whether you don’t really care about how many goals and assists he’s racked up, you’re going to say that Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s player of the season, right?

It’s a relief for all concerned to see Salah atop this chart. The runner up aligns with public perception too; I ran a quick Twitter poll to see who Liverpool’s non-Egyptian player of the year is, and Roberto Firmino was the runaway winner with over 90 percent of the vote.

Few Reds fans would disagree with the notion that Sadio Mané would be in the top five either, but Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip? Careful now, Twelve, this is how football stats pick up a bad reputation.

They have an advantage over some of their colleagues in that they are ranked sixth and eighth respectively for minutes played in the Premier League, but amending the chart to ‘Points Per Minute’ does not dislodge them from the top five.

Defensive contribution is highlighted in red, so of course the players in third to fifth here would perform well as it’s what they’re paid to do. But do they really contribute to attack (which is the green bar, and excludes shots) more frequently than Salah? And not just them either; there are 15 players who contributed more points per minute to attack than the newly crowned Golden Boot winner.

It seems Twelve rates contribution from further back on the field more highly, as the likes of Firmino, Ings, Solanke and Sturridge are all outside the top fifteen too. While my scepticism surrounding these figures remains, I am at least heartened by seeing Jordan Henderson at the summit of the attack rankings.

The skipper is a very divisive figure among Liverpool fans. I’m of the opinion the Reds have looked better with him in the side, and while it’s easy to quibble over Twelve’s scoring system, it’s clear that Henderson is definitely contributing to the attack and not just playing safe, sideways passes as his detractors will tell you.

When it comes to off ball work, my player of the season for Liverpool was undoubtedly Roberto Firmino. What he provides when the Reds don’t have the ball is a sight to behold, so why is he so low down in the Twelve rankings?

As with the attack figures, it seems the system rates these actions more highly at the back end of the pitch. Jürgen Klopp would beg to differ though, as he famously stated that “no playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter pressing situation”, and it’s for this reason that Bobby Firmino will always be one of the first names on his team sheet.

Even if Twelve doesn’t value Firmino as highly as Klopp does, the level of off ball work done by the Brazilian is abundantly clear from their interactive widget. It will initially appear blank, so make sure you select the ‘Only important actions’ button.

Look at how many actions there are, and note how they’re across the whole width of the pitch, even with the final third excluded. Click on any of those bubbles, and it will say ‘Pressure on Pass’, illustrating how the former Hoffenheim man is a master of closing down opponents with the aim of springing Liverpool into attack.

There aren’t any surprises with regards to the top points scorers for shots or errors, only to add that the latter emphasises why Klopp was right to abandon Simon Mignolet and opt for Loris Karius between the sticks for the run in.

No model will ever be perfect, and Twelve don’t claim that theirs is. While I don’t agree with their scoring system entirely, with Salah and Firmino in first and second place for Liverpool’s player of the season, Twelve are on the right track here in many ways.