Update: Mo Salah will start against Russia.
Mohamed Salah wasn’t in the starting lineup for Egypt in their first game of the 2018 World Cup against Uruguay on Friday, and a lot of people were very bummed out about that. The Egyptian attacker just had one of the greatest club soccer seasons, like, ever, and was going to be hugely important for Egypt if they were going to make it out of the group stage.
It turned out they really could have used him — Uruguay beat Egypt, 1-0. And now ahead of Egypt’s second group-stage match against Russia, fans are wondering if he’ll be ready to go for this one.
Here’s a brief rundown of the situation.
Who is Mohamed Salah?
Salah is an Egyptian attacker (he can play in attacking midfield, striker, or on the wing, depending on what you’re trying to do, but is most effective on the wing) who plays his club football for Liverpool.
Will he play in Egypt’s second game against Russia?
YES! Salah is in the starting lineup for the match.
Salah’s agent posted this on Sunday:
And rumblings out of the Egypt camp suggest that they feel more confident that Salah has progressed well from his shoulder injury and will be available to play.
Why did Mo Salah not play against Uruguay?
Salah suffered a shoulder injury in the Champions League final. The injury was sustained when Real Madrid defenseman Sergio Ramos and him got tangled up, and Ramos came down hard on Salah’s shoulder, injuring it.
Depending on who you ask, the injury was an unfortunate accident made by a blameless Ramos, or Ramos is an actual assassin sent down by God to ruin beautiful soccer players. The truth is somewhere in between, though I’m leaning toward the sent-down-by-God thing.
After the match, Egypt coach Héctor Cúper gave a news conference to explain the decision, saying it was done to prevent further injury. From Sporting News:
“The decision is always taken by myself and the staff – especially in the case of Mo,” Cuper told a news conference.
”We were quite certain in the training session that he would be able to play. At the end of the training session, he was examined by the doctors and there was some doubt.
”If he fell or was hit by another player, we thought he might get another injury. We wanted to avoid any further injury. The odds were important.
”We decided not to take that risk. We want to be sure we can have him on top form against Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
Previously Cúper said Salah was healthy, so take what he says with a gigantic grain of salt.
Why is that a big deal?
Salah is not only the focal point of Egypt’s attack, he’s one of the most gifted players alive, and is seriously being considered the first real threat to break up the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly that has sat atop the “best soccer players in the world” ranking for the last decade or so.
Salah had 32 goals in 36 Premier League matches this season, with 10 assists thrown in for good measure. He scored 10 goals in 15 Champions League matches, which is just an absolutely silly haul for a season, especially for a player who, up until like a year ago, had a knock on him that he wasn’t any good at finishing. (For real! Chelsea didn’t think he was a good enough scorer to keep around!)
Freed up by Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, who created a free flowing, chaotic, attacking system that is absolutely perfect for Salah, he did start scoring goals, and kept scoring goals, and frankly it got out of hand there. Blessed with unreal speed, underrated strength, and (now) a beautiful finishing touch, Salah is up there among the very best in the world.