Who? Egypt - Colombia
Where? Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, Bergamo
When? June 1, 21:15 (CET local time)
Egypt (Uri Levy)
Less than a year back, very few has believed that Egypt will qualify to the 2018 World Cup. When the Pharaohs promised their ticket to Russia against Congo Brazzaville, even fewer had believed that they’ll arrive to the World Cup with one of the top three footballers worldwide - Mohamed Salah. Everything seemed ready for Egypt’s comeback to the world stage, but Sergio Ramos had different plans.
On Saturday night, after a rough tackle from the Spanish defender in the European Champions League final, Salah has suffered a dislocated shoulder. For now he is likely to be sidelined between three or four weeks, until the group stage matches against Russia or Saudi Arabia. The reactions in Egypt and the Arab World to the injury included tears, sadness and a grieved atmosphere. This fact is changing the whole perception of the World Cup in Egypt.
Since that famous match against Congo, Egypt haven’t won a single match in 4 chances. In March, they dominated Portugal 1-0 and looked good, but after Salah was subbed, conceded two goals and lost. On Friday night, without Salah who was with Liverpool, Egypt trailed behind Kuwait in a friendly, only to finish in a 1-1 draw.
It’s no secret that despite having names like Essam Al-Hadary, Mahmoud Trezegut, Ramadan Sobhi, Shikabala & Abdallah Said, without Salah, Héector Cúper and Egypt tournament will be much harder.
Meanwhile, against Colombia, the Pharaohs will try to test their defence against a high quality South American side, in order to prepare well for June 15th; Their match against Uruguay on Salah’s 26th birthday. After this season, and the way it ended, his teammates definitely owe him a small present.
Colombia (Idan Segev)
Colombia will face Egypt in what should be their last preparation match before the world cup, although the president of the Colombian association is still trying to find another opponent which may be Greece. To the national team camp in Italy joined the new staff member, former Argentine international and Inter Milan player, Esteban Cambiasso, who will assist coach Pekerman in Russia.
The biggest surprise regarding the Colombian squad was the removal of talented Boca Juniors midfielder, Edwin Cardona. He was a major factor during the qualifiers but his well-known discipline problems left him once again without a World Cup appearance. Cardona still have some hope, as Abel Aguilar injured and he is considered as reserve player.
The good news for the Colombians is the fact that striker Radamel Falcao will make his world cup debut. After he had to miss the tournament 4 years ago due to a serious injury, he is ready to take his last chance with both hands. ‘El Tigre’ scored 54 goals in 79 matches for Monaco in the last two years, and proved that he can still contribute in the highest levels.
The main figure of the national team will be, of course, James Rodriguez. The 2014 world cup Golden Boot winner managed to overcome his difficult time in Real Madrid and had a great season with Bayern Munich. Along with Juventus winger, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Colombia’s trio is ready to attack.