Egypt return to World Cup action for the first time since 1990 with a difficult opening Group A fixture against Uruguay, and with the fitness of star man Mohamed Salah still in doubt.
Salah's participation at the tournament was plunged into uncertainty when he suffered a shoulder injury in a challenge with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos during Liverpool's Champions League final defeat last month.
The talismanic forward, who scored 44 goals in all competitions in an incredible debut season at Anfield, has insisted he will be fit for Friday's clash in Yekaterinburg.
However, head coach Hector Cuper, leading a side at a World Cup for the first time, says there is more to a team that reached the final of last year's Africa Cup of Nations than just Salah.
"We're not Mohamed Salah's national team, this team has many players who cooperate with each other to reach the best results," Cuper told MBC Masr TV.
"Egypt is lucky that this generation has one of the best players in the world but our tactics don't solely revolve around him."
Uruguay's preparation for the tournament has been comparatively free of drama, and La Celeste coasted to a 3-0 win over Uzbekistan in their warm-up game.
There is pressure on Oscar Tabarez, preparing to coach in a World Cup for the fourth time, and his Uruguay side, who are regarded as favourites for a group also featuring hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Uruguay disappointed in being knocked out in the last 16 in 2014 after reaching the semi-finals in 2010, and despite their favourable group, captain Diego Godin is not looking beyond their opening test.
Speaking on their departure from Montevideo, Godin said: "Although we, like the whole of the Uruguayan people, are dreaming big, the main challenge facing us is winning the game against Egypt; this is what's most important to us and is what is on our minds."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Egypt – Mohamed Salah
Will he? Won't he? Egypt's ability to progress to the knockout rounds largely hinges on the fitness of Salah and, if he does play, there will be severe scrutiny of his performance and whether he looks anything like the same player who took the Premier League and Champions League by storm this past season.
Uruguay – Lucas Torreira
Arsenal are rumoured to be in talks to sign Sampdoria midfielder Torreira, who will be key to both Uruguay's attacking play and to stopping Egypt.
Torreira only has three caps to his name but, after an impressive season for Samp in which he scored four Serie A goals, will likely be looked upon to break up play in the midfield and dictate things for Uruguay on their forays forward.
KEY OPTA STATS:
- Uruguay are unbeaten against African opposition at the World Cup (W1 D2).
- Egypt are so far winless at the World Cup, drawing two and losing two of their four games. In fact, no African team has played as many games in the competition without winning a single one.
- Uruguay have lost only one of their last eight World Cup group games (W4 D3), against Costa Rica in 2014 (1-3). However, they are winless in their last six opening games (D3 L3), their last victory coming in 1970 (2-0 v Israel).
- Mohamed Salah scored more goals than any other player in 2018 African World Cup qualifying (Third Round), netting five of Egypt’s eight goals overall.
- Luis Suarez has been directly involved in seven of Uruguay's last 13 goals at the World Cup (5 goals, 2 assists).
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|Red Sox clinch AL East with win over Yankees|
|Brighton star Knockaert reveals battle with depression|
|Bud Light beer fridges open after Browns snap 19-game winless streak|
|Browns end 635-day drought with first win since 2016 after downing Jets|
|Blue Jays overturn 8-2 deficit in improbable ninth-inning comeback|
|Colo Colo 0 Palmeiras 2: Scolari´s men poised for Libertadores SFs|
|Tour Championship would enhance successful year, says Tiger|
|Pogba: Man United getting better after winning run|
|What bothers me is that he has time to even do that – LeBron responds to Trump tweet|
|Cowboys most valuable NFL team for 12th successive year|
|Mkhitaryan aiming for glory with Europa specialist Emery|
|Sarri: Pedro´s injury is not too serious|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Drama in Minnesota, a Judge returns and tragedy in Iowa|
|Tottenham will overcome rough patch – Lamela|
|Torreira impresses for Arsenal but leaves with knock|
|Gattuso urges Higuain to be less predictable with his movement|
|Steelers´ Brown: ´Obviously I don´t want to be traded´|
|Woods, Fowler share Tour Championship lead|
|LeBron James backs Serena Williams after US Open controversy|
|Thiem into St Petersburg quarters, but retiring Youzhny bows out|
|Wigan clinch home semi-final with win over Huddersfield|
|Can apologises following sexism accusations|
|De Bruyne expects to be back for Manchester derby|
|Celtic 1 Rosenborg 0: Griffiths late show lifts Hoops|
|Woods eagles 18 to make 65 at Tour Championship|
|Arsenal 4 Vorskla 2: Aubameyang at the double in entertaining triumph|
|Dudelange 0 AC Milan 1: Deflected Higuain goal spares Gattuso´s blushes|
|Birthday boy Rashid inspires Afghanistan to Asia Cup win|
|Sarri feeling sorry for ´unlucky´ Morata|
|Ryder Cup pick Garcia shoots 66 at Portugal Masters|
|Ronaldo, Zidane, Cantona and the most infamous red cards|
|Villarreal 2 Rangers 2: Arfield and Lafferty steal point for Gerrard´s men|
|PAOK 0 Chelsea 1: Willian strikes as Morata misfires|
|Rain delays Ostapenko in Seoul, Wang books Guangzhou semi|
|Pochettino backs Kane to end goal drought|
|We figured it out - 76ers´ Markelle Fultz rebuilds jump shot|
|Joshua: Povetkin my second-toughest fight|
|Relaxed Pochettino not pushing panic button|
|Why Manchester City fans must fix their relationship with the Champions League|
|Majestic Giorgi ends Wozniacki´s reign in Tokyo|
|Pochettino unwilling to risk Alli fitness|
|Bigger Champions League tests to come, warns Pogba|
|Eight for 10! - Nadeem spins his way to world-record figures|
|A 4-1 lead cut to 3-2 by VAR, but Quakes have no complaints after Atlanta defeat|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings against Ronaldo|
|Joshua v Povetkin: Recapping AJ´s previous world title defences|
|Players told to ink twice over showing tattoos at Rugby World Cup in Japan|
|Mariano targeting Spain call-up after goalscoring Madrid return|
|Pandya, Axar and Thakur out of Asia Cup|
|England omit Cipriani, Tuilagi and Ashton called up|
|Can reacts to Ronaldo´s red card: We are not women|
|One Year to Go: Five Rugby World Cup debutants set to shine|
|Shy Osaka not comfortable with new-found fame|
|Belgium and World Cup winners France make FIFA rankings history|
|Ronaldo wanted to impress - Bernardeschi sympathises after Juve superstar´s red|
|Van Dijk warns Liverpool: Believe we can win trophies or stay home|
|Menezes complains of anti-Brazilian conspiracy after Dede´s VAR red|
|Diamondbacks rout Cubs to remain in postseason picture|
|Modric embraces Ballon d´Or chants as Di Francesco backs Madrid star for award|
|MLS Review: Martinez helps Atlanta stage comeback amid VAR controversy|
|Kerevi recommits to Wallabies, Reds|
|Lyon to ban fan for life after footage of Nazi salute emerges|
|Milan must respect opponents – Gattuso not underestimating Dudelange|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Zarate leads Boca, River draw|
|Mourinho: Dalot can play at Man United for more than 10 years|
|Johnson hoping to erase East Lake demons|
|´No question´ Fitzgerald faces Bears, says Cardinals´ Wilks|
|Rodgers says roughing the passer penalties are ´going the wrong direction´|
|Ravens fined $200,000 for violating communication policy|