Sebastian Rudy could play in a protective mask for Germany in crunch Group F clash against South Korea

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Germany midfielder Sebastian Rudy could play in a protective mask against South Korea in Kazan on Wednesday when his side look to book their place in the World Cup knockout phase.

Rudy was expected to miss the crunch Group F clash after sustaining a nasal bone fracture after half an hour of Germany’s dramatic late win over Sweden on Saturday night.

However Germany assistant coach Marcus Sorg told a press conference on Monday that he had not given up hope that Rudy will avoid joining the suspended Jerome Boateng on the sidelines.

Sorg said: “Sebastian Rudy underwent surgery yesterday so we have to be prepared for him to be sidelined for the next match. But if there is the possibility for him to play in a protective mask, we could consider it.”

Germany will be boosted by the return of defender Mats Hummels, who missed the Sweden match with a minor neck injury but is ready to return for Joachim Low’s men.

Sorg added: “Mats Hummels is back into full training today, so he will be fit for the next match.”

After their shock opening loss to Mexico, who have guaranteed their place in the last 16, Germany need to match or better Sweden’s result against the Mexicans in order to ensure progression.

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Egypt striker Mohamed Salah named in starting line-up to face Saudi Arabia

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Egypt’s star man Mohamed Salah was named in the starting line-up for their final World Cup Group A match against Saudi Arabia on Monday (18:00 kick-off).

Salah scored in the Pharaohs’ 3-1 defeat to Russia in their second game last Tuesday, having missed the opener against Uruguay due to the shoulder injury he sustained in the Champions League final last month.

It was initially reported that Salah would not start, but a correction was made on Egypt FA’s Twitter account shortly after.

Meanwhile, Essam El-Hadary replaces Mohamed El Shenawy between the sticks and is the only change to Hector Cuper’s side from last time out.

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Pogba and Eriksen lead battle for supremacy in midfield and more Denmark v France key battles

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Premier League stand-outs: Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen.

Denmark and France clash in a mouthwatering Group C finale on Tuesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow (18:00 kick-off).

For Les Bleus, a draw will seal top spot in the pool and potentially set-up a second-round meeting with either Argentina or Nigeria.

That is favourable, given Group D table-toppers Croatia lie in wait for whoever finishes second.

The Danes need a point to guarantee their progression although a defeat and an Australia win over Peru could see the Socceroos progress on goal difference.

Both Denmark and France are expected to tweak their line-ups for the match although all the key performers will be on show.

Here, we weigh up the all-important battlegrounds.

The first line of defence

Andreas Christiansen v Raphael Varane

The Chelsea centre-back is growing into this tournament and has formed a sturdy defensive shield with partner and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer.

At 22, he has certainly not looked out of place at his first major tournament and has shown his class on the ball, as well as defensively, when called upon – boasting a team-high 95 per cent passing success rate.

Varane, meanwhile, has gone about his business relatively quietly in this World Cup so far. The spotlight was on his defensive partner in crime, Samuel Umtiti, for his handball against Australia while the Real Madrid star has actually been a calming, authoritative figure.

It is obvious his confidence levels are high following a strong end to the season with Los Blancos.

The 25-year-old has made a team-high seven clearances in the first two games, with his positional play generally spot-on.

France's defender Raphael Varane applauds at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between France and Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg on June 21, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Steady presence: Raphael Varane.

The creative sparks in midfield

Christian Eriksen v Paul Pogba

An intriguing battle of two of the Premier League‘s leading lights.

Maestro Eriksen has been in a rich vein of form – scoring 13 international goals and bagging five assists in his past 15 matches – and is the centre piece to this Danish outfit.

The Danes are reliant on his powers of creation and Pogba will be charged with shackling his forward runs into the box, such as the one he made against Australia.

That shouldn’t be a problem for Red Devil pivot Pogba, who kick-started France’s attack which eventually led to the only goal against Peru with a strong challenge.

He will also be keen to dictate play himself, having been on the ball the second-most out of anyone in the France team (62 per cent) behind fellow midfielder Corentin Tolisso (65 per cent).

Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen (R) celebrates after socring the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 21, 2018. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Christian Eriksen wheels away after his wonder strike against Australia.

The men to make impact in final third

Nicolai Jorgensen v Olivier Giroud

The 27-year-old Feyenoord hitman will lead the line and will be desperate to grab his first goal of the tournament.

Combined excellently with Eriksen to tee up Tottenham star’s goal against Australia but has mustered just two shots of his own in the opening two matches.

The Danes are light on striking options but he needs to be smarter with his hold-up play to retain his place in the first XI moving forward.

On the other hand, Giroud’s inclusion from the start in the win over Peru revitalised France and gave the side a focal point, balance and structure.

Dropping Ousmane Dembele in place of the 31-year-old proved to be a shrewd move for Les Bleus as Giroud’s 34th minute shot deflected into the path of Kylian Mbappe for the Paris Saint-Germain forward to poke into an empty net.

Difference-maker: Olivier Giroud.

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