MX23RW : Monday, September 20 18:42:57| >> :600:4518873:4518873:
Jul 25, 2021 at 8.30am UK at Sapporo Dome
Egypt U23sEgypt Under-23s
Argentina U23sArgentina Under-23s

Sobhi (84')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Medina (52')
Ponce (72'), Belmonte (84'), De la Vega (84'), Perez (86')

Preview: Egypt Under-23s vs. Argentina Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between Egypt Under-23s and Argentina Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following the South American champions' shock defeat in their opening game, Argentina Under-23s seek to get off the mark in Group C at the Tokyo Olympics, as they meet Egypt Under-23s on Sunday.

The two teams convene at the Sapporo Dome, with the North African side buoyed by an opening day draw with group favourites Spain.

Match preview

Francisco Ortega of Argentina is shown a red card by referee Leodan Gonzalez on July 22, 2021© Reuters

As one of the nations fancied to fight it out for a place on the podium, Argentina's introduction to this much-delayed Olympic football tournament fell horribly flat on Thursday.

By the time defender Francisco Ortega lost his composure to pick up two yellow cards in as many minutes at the end of the first half, Graham Arnold's Australia side had already seized the initiative - earning an early lead through wide man Lachlan Wales.

Ortega's moments of madness were then exploited in the second half, as Aussie teenager Marco Tilio scored soon after coming off the bench to see the Olyroos rewarded for their impressively energetic approach. The ten-man Albiceleste were frustrated as they could find no way past the Australians' organised back four, so are now on the back foot coming into this weekend's game.

Sergio Batista's side previously emerged from the South American Under-23 Championships as runners-up, having sealed Olympic qualification and impressed with their enterprising play; also winning two pre-Games warm-ups versus Denmark and Saudi Arabia in Marbella.

However, they must quickly recover from the unfamiliar feeling of defeat if they are to replicate the golden feats of the 2004 and 2008 teams - when Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi respectively led a proud football nation to the podium's top step.

Oscar Mingueza of Spain reacts after sustaining an injury as Ahmed Hegazy of Egypt reacts alongside referee Adham Makhadmeh on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Having battled for a hard-earned point against a strong Spain side in their opening match, Egypt can approach this weekend's encounter in the knowledge that all expectation rests on their South American counterparts' shoulders.

Resolutely fending off a team featuring several men who made it to the Euro 2020 semi-finals earlier this month, Egypt may have only had little over a third of possession - to be expected against any incarnation of La Roja - but should be encouraged by their opening night performance.

Though Dani Ceballos did manage to thump a first-half shot against the post, Luis de la Fuente's men were restricted to five attempts on target, and a similar display versus Argentina could once again bear fruit - with fellow outsiders Australia left to play in the final game.

The country that has qualified for the Games more than any other African nation (on 15 occasions), Egypt have never before made it past the quarter-finals. The Pharaohs did, though, win the African Under-23 Championships to make it this far, while also claiming the scalp of a strong Brazil Under-23s side last November.

Even if talisman Mohamed Salah has been unable to join the cause in Japan, after his club vetoed the fleet-footed forward's inclusion in the provisional squad - and both Mohamed Elneny and Galatasaray's Mostafa Mohamed were also omitted for the same reason - a largely home-based selection has certainly demonstrated unity and belief so far.

Head coach Shawky Gharieb has had to defend his players, though, after Spain's Oscar Mingueza found himself on the end of a heavy tackle which saw Ahmed Fotouh booked, and Dani Ceballos limped off shortly before half-time after a foul by Taher Mohamed, who appeared to stand on the former Arsenal midfielder's ankle.

Certainly, another rugged showing may be required on Sunday if his team are to overcome Argentina's similarly talented technicians.

Egypt Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • D

Egypt Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D

Argentina Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • L

Argentina Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Argentina forward Adolfo Gaich pictured in February 2020© Reuters

Fernando Batista, who has worked in Argentina's youth set-up since 2018, has a settled squad - with most featuring at last year's CONMEBOL Under-23 Championships together - but may make changes in the aftermath of Thursday's defeat.

Left-back Franciso Ortega is one man who definitely misses out, as he must serve a suspension after his dismissal against Australia, so Marcelo Herrera could fill in, alongside captain Nehuen Perez - recently returned to Atletico Madrid from a loan spell at Granada.

Having failed to fire last time out, CSKA Moscow target man Adolfo Gaich is under pressure from more mobile options Ezequiel Ponce and Pedro de la Vega to start up front.

While Argentina decided to name only one over-aged player in their squad, Egypt have exploited the experience of Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy, veteran defender Ahmed Hegazi and Zamalek's Mahmoud Hamdi, with all three playing their part in the rearguard action versus Spain.

The five-man defence selected by Shawky Gharieb for that game should be retained, in order to thwart their opponents' more creative talents.

In attack, Wolfsburg's Omar Marmoush was surprisingly omitted from the squad, so despite drawing a blank in midweek, Ahmed Yasser Rayan should start up front for the Pharaohs.

Egypt Under-23s possible starting lineup:
El Shenawy; El Eraki, Hegazi, Ramadan, Hamdi, Fotouh; Tawfik, Ashour, Sobhi; Mohamed, Yasser

Argentina Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Ledesma; De La Fuente, Perez, Medina, Herrera; Barco, Vera, Belmonte, Valenzuela; Mac Allister, Gaich

SM words green background

We say: Egypt Under-23s 0-1 Argentina Under-23s

Requiring a rapid improvement if they are to continue their quest for a medal, Argentina must surely come out firing on Sunday, but are set to meet determinedly dogged opponents.

Egypt can keep the Albiceleste at bay for most of the match, but the South Americans will find a way through at some stage - either through the direct route of Adolfo Gaich, or the more refined approach of his forward line colleagues.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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