Today at the World Cup: Monday, June 25 Spain, Portugal and hosts Russia among teams in action

The final round of World Cup group games starts on Monday, with top spots still still to be decided.

Russia and Uruguay will fight it out to be crowned Group A winners, after which they could face any of Spain, Portugal or Iran in the last 16, with all five countries in action on Monday.

Each morning during the tournament we will bring you an overview of what is coming up.

World Cup fixtures
World Cup venues

Who’s playing today?

Uruguay v Russia (Group A) – Samara, 3pm

Saudi Arabia v Egypt (Group A) – Volgograd, 3pm

Spain v Morocco (Group B) – Kaliningrad, 7pm

Iran v Portugal (Group B) – Saransk, 7pm

What’s the deal?

With Saudi Arabia and Egypt both out – and playing each other for little more than pride – attention turns to the surprise group leaders Russia, who will take on Uruguay to determine who finishes top of Group A.

Mo Salah's return to the Egypt line-up could not help avoid a 3-1 defeat to Russia
Mo Salah’s return to the Egypt line-up could not help avoid a 3-1 defeat to Russia

Russia have been the surprise package of the tournament, blowing Saudi Arabia and Egypt away while Uruguay struggled beyond both.

In the other Group A game, Egypt’s Essam El-Hadary will become the oldest player in World Cup history if he gets a run-out, in a match where both sides are expected to field changed squads.

In Group B, things are a little more complicated, with Iran still harbouring a chance of reaching the last-16 if they can get a result against Portugal.

A draw could be enough for Carlos Quiroz’s side, but only if Spain are beaten by Morocco in Kaliningrad, despite having yet to score a single goal at this tournament.

Carlos Queiroz's Iran still have a chance of qualification
Carlos Queiroz’s Iran still have a chance of qualification

Morocco are the only team in Group B confirmed to be going home from the tournament, while each of the other three teams could finish in any of the top three positions, depending on results on Monday.

Three to watch

Essam El-Hadary: Tipped to become the World Cup’s oldest player, the 45-year-old Egyptian goalkeeper made his debut in professional football before team-mate Mohamed Salah was even a year old. He may well get his chance to make history in what is expected to be a much-changed Egypt side.

Isco: A sensation in the first game against Portugal, Spain’s Isco can pull the strings from midfield for his country and could play a key role in unlocking Morocco’s defence on Monday.

Isco put in a superb performance in the opening game with Portugal
Isco put in a superb performance in the opening game with Portugal

Hakim Ziyech: Morocco’s midfield maestro, and also an Ajax regular, is yet to find his shooting boots at this World Cup but has been an integral part of his country’s form to reach the finals, and with the pressure lifted off his shoulders, albeit in unwanted circumstances, it could be time for him to show what he’s made of.

Stat of the day

Will it be unlucky seven? Morocco have fired in more shots than their opposition in each of their last six World Cup defeats (v Portugal and Iran in 2018; Brazil in 1998; Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Belgium in 1994).

On this day

In 2010, Italy’s 3-2 defeat to Slovakia eliminated the holders from a group stage they had been expected to breeze through, with New Zealand and Paraguay their other opponents.

A double from Robert Vittek set Slovakia on their way, and even when Antonio Di Natale pulled one back, they were soon two ahead again when Kamil Kopunek made it three, and hung on even with an injury-time consolation from Fabio Quagliarella.

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