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).
|De Gea has to bounce back from Ronaldo shocker - Bosnich|
|Martinez not looking for perfection|
|Farah´s Wests Tigers return confirmed|
|Cubs get extra-inning win to split doubleheader with Dodgers|
|Denmark will ´struggle´ if Australia stop Eriksen, says Jakobsen|
|Astros´ win streak ends at 12|
|Lahm backs Germany, Low after losing start|
|Messi has all our support – Dybala|
|Strickland apologises for ´stupid decision´ that led to broken hand|
|Five-time Open Championship winner Thomson dies aged 88|
|´Positive´ Pogba not bitter towards media, says Varane|
|Portugal privileged to have ´humble´ Ronaldo, says Pepe|
|Strickland breaks hand punching door after blown save, out for up to eight weeks|
|He will have received good money – Costa delighted by Griezmann extension|
|Kane: Pochettino sent me love hearts after World Cup heroics|
|Nationals place Adams on 10-day DL with broken finger|
|Dybala: I can play alongside Messi|
|Lewandowski: Poland didn´t take enough risks|
|England´s Kane aiming to reach Ronaldo, Messi levels with World Cup performances|
|Kicker given three-year match-fixing ban|
|England confirm Alli thigh injury|
|Federer through, Zverev out in Halle|
|Back on the map and earning letters from ladies, Tabarez embraces Uruguay´s heritage|
|Rampant England rout Australia in record-breaking display|
|Pulisic in right place at Dortmund, says Arena|
|Wilshere confirms Arsenal exit|
|NASCAR at Sonoma: TV schedule, standings, qualifying drivers for Toyota/Save Mart 350|
|Muguruza and Kvitova cruise through in Birmingham|
|Leno among top 10 most expensive goalkeepers|
|Pained Salah unable to halt Russia´s unlikely march|
|Kyrgios downs ´legend´ Murray as Dimitrov and Djokovic progress|
|Neymar pain normal – Coutinho unconcerned by ankle issue|
|Russia 3 Egypt 1: Salah strikes but hosts right on course for last 16|
|We must make Ronaldo less exceptional, says Morocco boss Renard|
|Chandimal handed one-Test ball tampering ban, faces further ICC charge|
|Arsenal sign goalkeeper Leno from Leverkusen|
|Mexico style in Germany win surprised Arena|
|Monaco complete €20m move for Lyon teenager Geubbels|
|Saudi team don´t know cause of aeroplane fire, Pizzi reveals|
|Champions League qualifying draw: Celtic travel to Armenia, Ajax face Sturm Graz|
|I´ve never seen a player win on his own – Santos shrugs off Ronaldo dependence|
|Murray impresses despite narrow defeat on return|
|West Ham land club-record Diop signing|
|El Hadji Diouf hails ´perfect start´ for Senegal|
|Cisse and Senegal give cause for African celebration|
|Carvajal ready to face Iran - Hierro|
|Japan´s World Cup victory over Colombia sparks celebrations on the streets of Tokyo|
|Poland 1 Senegal 2: Good fortune and bad errors hand Africans Group H win|
|England shatter ODI world record with total of 481 against Australia|
|Best yet to come from England hero Kane, says Rashford|
|Salah starts for Egypt against Russia|
|De Jong expects to stay at Ajax|
|Barcelona angered by Pique´s involvement in Griezmann saga|
|Federer begins Halle defence with comfortable Bedene win|
|Tabarez not worried by slow Suarez start|
|Brazil´s Neymar felt pain in his ankle, CBF confirms|
|Griezmann understands Atletico fans´ nerves over Barcelona speculation|
|Queiroz salutes Hierro for uniting Spain|
|Stump from Scotland´s defeat of England auctioned for charity|
|Red Bull will not have works team label, confirm Honda|
|Neymar hobbles out of Brazil World Cup training|
|Ronaldo´s revelry, Messi´s miss and Sanchez´s shocker - Russia 2018, World Cup of the penalty|
|Brazil ask FIFA to explain VAR decisions against Switzerland|
|Colombia 1 Japan 2: Sanchez red spoils Pekerman´s plans|
|Argentina v Croatia: Mercado wants an end to ´Messidependencia´|
|Hoffenheim director suggests €50m bid could land Kramaric|
|England will emerge as a ´champion team´, insists Jones|
|Ryder Cup teams shaping up great, says Strange|
|We cannot replace Iniesta – Abidal|
|Colombia´s Sanchez sees second-quickest World Cup red card|