In Tokyo Olympics Men’s soccer, a strong Spain Under-23s squad will kick off their Olympic Games Group C campaign against Egypt Under-23s on Thursday in Sapporo. La Rojita has a number of players from their run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals. Playing against a country that has qualified for the Games more than any other African country, Spain’s team is likely to get off to a winning start. Here is our expert guess on Egypt vs Spain prediction and lineup for Olympic Games 2021.
Egypt has been frustrated by their inability to select some of their senior team’s stars. Hence, Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy, veteran defender Ahmed Hegazi, and Zamalek’s Mahmoud Hamdi are named as their over-age men.
Omar Marmoush from Wolfsburg was surprisingly left out of the squad, allowing Ahmed Yasser Rayan and Salah Mohsen to compete for the Pharaohs’ starting spot up front.
This summer Spain’s three over-age players will be Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino and Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio. The latter helped Spain to victory at the Under-19 Euros in 2015 and representing La Roja at the 2018 World Cup.
Last week, these three senior players started in midfield against Japan, but star man Pedri is a strong contender to break into the starting XI after coming off the bench.
Up front, Asensio and Dani Olmo are expected to start in support of Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Rafa Mir, though coach Luis de la Fuente also has Mikel Oyarzabal as an option.
Without a doubt, Spain will be a formidable opening opponent for one of the competition’s outsiders Egypt this week, especially given that the North African football giants have never advanced past the quarter-finals despite competing in 15 previous Olympic Games.
To get this far, the Pharaohs won the African Under-23 Championships, as well as a prized scalp of a strong Brazil Under-23s side last November, coming from behind to win 2-1.
However, head coach Shawky Gharieb’s hopes of progressing through Group C have been dashed after denying permission for national icon and on-field talisman Mohamed Salah to join the cause, following Liverpool’s refusal to comply when the Premier League star was named in the provisional squad.
Though a well-balanced Egypt side devoid of stars but boasting several players on the verge of moving to Europe should not be underestimated in a difficult Group D, they will fall short on Thursday, with the majority of their efforts focused on chasing Spanish shadows.
Egypt Under-23s possible starting lineup:
El Shenawy; El Eraki, Hegazi, Ramadan, Fouad; Tawfik, Hamdi, Maher; Sobhi, Mohsen, Mansi
Spain Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Simon; Oscar, Torres, Garcia, Cucurella; Merino, Pedri, Ceballos; Olmo, Mir, Asensio
Our Prediction: Egypt Under-23s 0-2 Spain Under-23s