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Hossam Hassan eyeing Egypt job

Football
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Opposition Scouting Report: How do Egypt beat Russia?

Egypt may have lost their World Cup opener against Uruguay, but with Mohamed Salah back to face a Russia side who were flattered by their opening victory against Saudi Arabia, they'll be expecting to get their campaign back on track on Tuesday.

Ex-Zambia assistant coach and Queens Park Rangers opposition scout Irfan Kawri certainly believes that the hosts could be vulnerable in their second Group A match.

Defensively, while they weren't breached by Saudi Arabia, two of Stanislav Cherchesov's first-choice defenders - Viktor Vasin and Georgi Dzhikiya - are missing, and they could be exploited by Salah.

How can Egypt neutralise Russia's strengths?

The hosts demonstrated good pressure off the ball from the middle third against Saudi Arabia, in particular from Yury Gazinsky and Roman Zobnin, who were very aggressive and tenacious.

Egypt need to be wary of this and not dwell on the ball. They need to move it quickly and make sure they receive the ball at the right time in the right areas. It is imperative they accelerate to receive and move possession around quickly, otherwise the Russians will pounce.

As a team, they were organised and compact off the ball against Saudi Arabia on Thursday, getting into a good defensive shape early and effectively.

They totally restricted their opponents to zero attempts on target.

Egypt need to employ a strategy that has end product and to test the opponent goal; possession without purpose is pointless.

If Russia employ a strategy to sit in and hold to restrain Egypt, the Pharaohs will have to move the ball quickly especially in transition to exploit them when out of balance, otherwise Russia will get back into shape.

If Egypt do dominate possession and Russia sit in, the North Africans will have to be patient and penetrate at the right times.

The key is they do attempt to penetrate and test the Russian defence with a forward pass, combination play or an effective dribbler. Perhaps Salah could be key here, or the likes of Kahraba or Trezeguet could express themselves better than they did against Uruguay.

Russia schooled the opposition as they sat in and pounced on the poor play in possession from Saudi Arabia as the visitors gave the ball away cheaply. The hosts were efficient and attacked well in offensive transition.

They had good moments on the counter and exploited Saudi Arabia.

Egypt need to be wary of this, and if Russia decide to sit in and play on the counter, Hector Cuper's side need to make sure they have better balance to their play and not over-commit to give them security on the turnover.

Egypt will also have to react much better in defensive transition and be more organised as Saudi Arabia were all over the place. Knowing how well Cuper disciplines and organises his teams, this shouldn't be a problem for the African heavyweights.

In possession, both full-backs Mario Fernandes and Yuri Zhirkov supported the play ahead of them and offered an outlet out wide.

They offered good width in attack, and were both mobile and dynamic.

Egypt need to be wary of potential 2v1 situations on their full-backs and make sure their midfielders provide cover.

Encouragingly, Ahmed Fathy registered seven tackles against Uruguay, delivering an imperious display, and should be similarly resolute against Russia.

Against Saudi Arabia, the technically proficient Aleksandr Golovin effected the game well as he crossed the ball accurately for the first goal, and then made the run ahead into space - showing good acceleration and pace - ahead of the second.

He crossed the ball well to set up the third goal, then scored an excellent free kick for the fifth.

The 22-year-old looked a threat all game, showing good quick feet, showed the ability to find good spaces, and was quick of thought and feet when in possession.

Golovin needs to be marked tightly, and Fathy cannot afford to give him time and space.

Egypt need to be aggressive with him and make life difficult to denying him time and space while applying good pressure.

Denis Cheryshev really influenced the game when he came on, scoring twice including a goal-of-the-tournament contender.

He showed good energy down the left side, boasted power and pace, and got in good positions to support the attack.

Assuming he starts, Egypt need to match him up with someone who can be aggressive and neutralise his physicality.

Generally, Russia were more aggressive, powerful and stronger than Saudi Arabia. If Egypt aren't to be bullied in the same way, they'll have to be aggressive and match the Russians, as the Asian side failed to compete at all when out of possession.

How can Egypt exploit Russia's weaknesses?

Russia have weaknesses at the back, even if centre-backs Sergei Ignashevich and Ilya Kutepov had a good game in the opener and weren't tested.

Egypt need to get at them early, put them under pressure, and expose them.

Both will be happy to have play in front of them and going sideways at a slow pace as in the opener, and so Egypt need to get players to stretch the centre-backs, run in behind, down the channels and down the sides.

The backline need to be turned quickly, and good attacking movement is key to pulling them out of position in order to expose them.

There were also occasions when right-back Fernandes was high up the pitch, and Saudi Arabia, transitioning quickly, got some joy down that side.

Egypt can really exploit these spaces left early in transition.

In offensive transitions, Egypt need to play into the space early, and Salah will be central to this approach.

Generally both full-backs for Russia got high and wide, so these spaces in the channels can be exploited early.

When Saudi Arabia turned the ball over, Russia pounced in transition and committed players forward early. Cheryshev, Golovin, Samedov and Zobnin all got ahead to support Fedor Smolov, and if play breaks down whilst they are on the attack they will leave spaces to exploit early.

Egypt must play into these areas and drive at the Russian defence.

Conclusion

Russia will definitely be boosted heading into the Egypt game after their excellent opening showing, where there were many positives to be taken.

Golovin and Cheryshev showed what they can do, although Cuper will know that the hosts were barely tested at the back against poor opposition in Saudi Arabia.

Egypt must make sure Russia know they're in a physical battle and, if they play in the transitions and exploit the space - something that Salah can do effectively - they can get their World Cup campaign back on track.

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