Premier League Watch
There is no question that Mo Salah was even close to full fitness as he made his comeback for Egypt against hosts Russia on day six of the 2018 World Cup, but the Pharaohs had to take the gamble with their future at the tournament at stake. The Liverpool forward still made a mark of sorts, hammering home from the penalty spot after VAR had ruled in favour of his team – but Egypt were already 3-0 down, and destined for an early exit from their first World Cup since 1990.
Salah’s teammate at Anfield, Sadio Mane, had an influential game for Senegal, providing the assist for the deflected strike that opened his team’s account in the 2-1 win over Poland. Mane operated out on the left of midfield, but could often be seen driving into the middle to exploit the space left by M’Biaye Niang, who often drifted out to that side to win the aerial, diagonal pass. Mane would also move into the half-space and central areas to provide space for left-back Youssouf Sabaly to get forwards. Although Poland pressed Senegal, they didn’t do so quite as high or aggressively as is usual in the Premier League – so the space in behind was limited, meaning Mane couldn’t make the same runs in behind we have become used to seeing for Liverpool.
Another player based in Merseyside, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, operated on the right side of Senegal’s central midfield, alongside Wolves’ Alfred N’Diaye. Gueye, whose deflected shot opened the scoring, was tasked with the simple job of regaining possession and keeping it safe. His pass success of 89 per cent suggests he did just that.