150% up to ₹30,000 - Code: BTSCLAIM NOW
Dark horses Uruguay and South Korea meet in fascinating opening Group H clash
Uruguay to win 1-0
Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Al Rayyan, Education City StadiumBet Now
Uruguay also seem to reach the latter stages of the tournament these days, it seems, and will be hoping to do the same here in Qatar.
They reached the Quarter Finals in 2018, where they were beaten by eventual winners France. During that run, they claimed victory over Portugal, a fellow competitor in Group H this time around.
The Uruguayans have a number of elite players in their ranks who always seem to perform as good, if not better, with their country than they do for their clubs. They’ll be ones to watch at this tournament.
South Korea have been sweating over the fitness of Son Heung-min in recent weeks, with the Tottenham forward recovering from injury just in time to be in contention for the World Cup.
It remains to be seen whether he is fit here, or even fully fit at all, but his presence is sure to lift an energetic and ambitious South Korean outfit.
They will have their work cut out to qualify from a tough group, but no one will write them off.
FIFA Ranking: 14
Predicted Finish: Round of 16
Reasons to be cheerful:
Elite forwards like Suarez, Nunez and Cavani at their disposal
Won their final four games of qualifying
Reasons to be fearful:
Ageing defenders lack the pace to deal with better attacks
Entering World Cup with new manager for first time in 15 years
While there is a familiar look to Uruguay at this World Cup, they have morphed into a different beast over the past 12 months or so.
Gone is Oscar Tabarez, the manager at the helm over the past 15 years and more than 200 games. In comes Diego Alonso and a high-pressing style that we haven’t always associated with Uruguay over the years.
The likes of Real Madrid’s Fede Velverde and Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur have helped in that department, while the rise to stardom of Darwin Nunez has helped to shoulder the burden of the ageing Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani upfront.
At the back, Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez remain as present as ever, although their lack of pace will be a worry the further they go in the tournament.
They will want a good start here.
Star Man – Darwin Nunez
Still relatively inexperienced for Uruguay, the Liverpool forward has scored nine goals in his 18 appearances for his club this season. He will be expected to lead his country into a new era.
FIFA Ranking: 28
Predicted Finish: Group Stage
Reasons to be cheerful
Competing at their 10th consecutive World Cup
Won 12 of their 16 qualifying games albeit against lesser opposition
Reasons to be fearful
Haven’t made it past the Group Stage in past two World Cups
Son Heung-min is an injury concern
South Korea are entering this tournament far from being in their best form, and their best player, Son Heung-min, may miss out due to an injury he picked up while on Champions League duty for Tottenham.
Without him, this group looks arguably too tough for the South Koreans to qualify from. With him, they have a chance, but they are still underdogs against the likes of Uruguay and Portugal.
Their qualifying record will look typically positive, although they finished behind Iran in their final group and didn’t look as fluid as they have done in the build up to previous tournaments.
At their best, they play with pace and directness that can open teams up on the counter. Kim Min-jae, of Napoli, is solid at the back, while they have a number of talented midfielders.
Other than that, however, they lack genuine international quality.
Star Man – Son Heung-min
He may not be completely fit after his fractured eye-socket injury, but he is key to his country’s hopes. He has 35 goals in his 104 caps.
Could be an end-to-end game
South Korea’s defence to struggle against Uruguay’s quality
Possibly a low-scoring game
With the running power and pace of both teams, you may expect that this could be an end-to-end game of sorts.
Uruguay have the star quality to take South Korea apart if they can click together, although we should not underestimate Son’s ability to drag his country forward. If he plays, that is.
Uruguay are the favourites here, but it could be a low-scoring encounter.
Uruguay to win 1-0
150% up to ₹30,000 - Code: BTS