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FIFA World Cup 2018 preview: Uruguay and Russia battle for right to claim top spot in Group A

Uruguay have managed meek 1-0 wins against Egypt and Saudi Arabia - a fact that Russia could bank on to stage an upset.

FIFA World Cup 2018 preview: Uruguay and Russia battle for right to claim top spot in Group A
Uruguay may be the better ranked team by far but local support could propel Russian players. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Samara, Russia: Uruguay and Russia will battle for the top spot in Group A and enter the knockout rounds of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in style when they meet here on Monday.

Both teams have won their previous two matches but Uruguay need a win in order to finish the opening round as group winners while a draw will be enough for Russia since they enjoy a superior goal difference.

The most highly rated team in the group with several stars in their line-up, Uruguay have not been at their best during identical 1-0 wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

However, the South Americans boast one of the strongest attacking line-ups in the tournament which includes the likes of star forwards Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Maxi Gómez.

Their defence, marshalled by skipper Diego Godín, are yet to concede a goal and the Uruguayans will definitely like to keep it that way. Godín is playing in his third World Cup and his experience should come in handy as the business end of the tournament approaches.

José Giménez is Godin`s partner in the centre of the Uruguay defence and the Atlético Madrid star has made a good impression so far in his maiden World Cup.

Russia in contrast, have been more spectacular. They thrashed the Saudis 5-0 in the tournament`s inaugural match before outclassing Egypt 3-1.

Left winger Denis Cheryshev has played a starring role for Russia with three goals as the hosts entered the second round for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The 27-year-old will aim to maintain his superb form as the Russians face their toughest test of the group stage.

The Russian defence however, did not face too many problems in the first two matches but the likes of Suarez and Cavani should be a different matter altogether.