Who? Uruguay - Saudi Arabia
Where? Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
When? June 20, 17:00 (CET local time)
Uruguay (Gilad Seroussi)
La Celeste has won the first battle, in hope for many to come, with Josema Gimenez's powerful header hitting the Egyptian net very late in the game. It wasn't easy, nor was it pretty, but if it was so it wouldn't have been Uruguay right?
Maybe it wasn't the performance many hoped to see from Uruguay, especially with the unfamiliar title of group favorites and promising young talent in the squad, but for Edinson Cavani it was a positive one: "We created 5 scoring chances and the keeper (El Shenawy) was the MVP, what's not positive about it?" In addition, the defence was formidable as always, keeping the Egyptians far from Muslera's goal for the best part of the match. But Suarez forgot his shooting boots and El Shenawy dressed up as Superman, so Uruguay suffered till the end. While it might not have been a poor performance, Tabarez knows he needs to change and mix things up, especially in midfield where the new guys didn't win his trust. Nandez looked out of position playing along the line, not for the first time, and De Arrascaeta didn't support the strikers as well as hoped. Both were subbed before the hour mark.
For today's game Tabarez is expected to drop Nandez and De Arrascaeta from the starting lineup, for more experienced and natural wide players Pato Sanchez and Cebolla Rodriguez. On Friday those changes worked well for Uruguay, increasing the threat on the opponent's defence from wide areas and specifically for scoring the winner; as set piece specialist Sanchez was the one to deliver the assist. With these changes Uruguay will play with seven players over 30 years old in the starting lineup, but Tabarez denies he's looking for more experienced players and says it's all about the current form.
Now it's time for the best 11 footballers Tabarez choose to win another battle in Russia 2018, and I just wish it won't be as stressing as it was on Friday. Uruguay noma!
Saudi Arabia (Yossi Medina)
Less than a week has passed since their 0:5 defeat against Russia and the Saudis feel that they are on the road for a massive failure in this World Cup campaign.
It didn't took long until Turki Al Sheikh made a statement about this game. Al Sheikh recorded himself blaming the players for this poor match and asked for forgiveness from the Saudi Prince, who travelled to Moscow and watched that game. A few months after the bizarre deal with Spain, Al Sheikh seems to be hopeless with the Saudi football future.
If you thought that the humiliation feeling will end quickly, the Saudi FA gave us a reminder that everything is possible. Three players have been penalized by them, goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi, and it's still unclear whether they will be available for the match.
The Saudis faced another problem, as their airplane caught fire while the team traveled to Rostov-on-Don. The FA said it happened due to an engine failure, but at least they landed safely in their destination.
Landing while your airplane is burning and say that everything is fine, that's the complete story of Juan Antonio Pizzi and his players. Even though they have no chance to win this game, the Saudis will have to do their best if they don't want another humiliation like in Moscow.