After 11 days, the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup enters its business end with two double-headers.
While Uruguay take on hosts Russia at the Samara Arena, Saudi Arabia will face Egypt at the Volgograd Arena in Group A. In the second set of games on Monday, Spain take on Morocco at the Kaliningrad Stadium while Iran and Portugal face off at the Mordovia Arena.
Here’s a look at what you can expect on Monday:
Group A: Uruguay vs Russia, Saudi Arabia vs Egypt (7.30 pm)
This set of matches will lack the edge you would expect from a World Cup due to the fact that Russia and Uruguay have already clinched berths in the Round of 16. The day’s two clashes then are only to decide placings. While Uruguay’s clash with Russia will determine which team tops the group, eliminated Egypt and Saudi Arabia are meeting to save some face. Meanwhile, a cloud hangs over the Egyptian team with Liverpool star Mohamed Salah reportedly telling Egypt team officials and teammates that he is considering retirement from international play because he is angry about being used as a political symbol while the World Cup squad was based in Chechnya.
Salah has been irked by a team banquet hosted by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who used the dinner to grant Salah "honorary citizenship”.
Group B: Spain vs Morocco, Iran vs Portugal (11.30 pm)
Since Morocco (zero points) have already been eliminated, Portugal and Spain (with four points each) and Iran (three) are left to compete for the two spots. Spain play Morocco on Monday, when Portugal meet Iran.
Portugal and Spain would want routine victories to lock their place in the knockout rounds. Both continental giants could advance with a win, a draw or even defeat — depending what their rival does in the other match. Or they could knock out Iran and both move through.
Should Spain and Portugal both win with an identical scoreline, their fair play record will be used to decide the group winner.
With inputs from AP
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 09:43:05 IST