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Uruguay vs Republic Of Korea Match Preview

22 Nov 2022 17:38    

The match

Group H in the 2022 World Cup gets underway with Uruguay and South Korea facing off at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan on Thursday. Winners of the inaugural World Cup in 1930, Uruguay are making their 14th appearance and are one of only six nations to have multiple titles in the famous tournament following their triumph in the 1950 edition (Brazil, Germany, Italy, France and Argentina being the others). La Celeste have a current streak of three consecutive World Cup tournaments where they have made it out of the group stages and will be expected to do so once again, despite being part of a tough group H with Portugal and Ghana the other two sides. Uruguay enter the competition following a 3-1-1 run of fixtures in their warm-up matches with a 2-0 victory over Canada the most recent result.

South Korea make their 11th appearance at the World Cup and 10th in a row after securing automatic qualification by way of a second-place finish behind Iran in their qualifying group. The Taegeuk Warriors’ best finish in the competition was their magical run to fourth-place in the 2002 edition in which they co-hosted along with Japan. Since then, South Korea have failed to make it out of the group stages in three of the last four World Cups, with a 2010 round of 16 exit to their opponents today, Uruguay, the only exception. South Korea went 2-1-0 in their three warm-up matches preceding the tournament, with a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica followed up by a pair of 1-0 victories over Cameroon and Iceland.

Uruguay will be without the services of Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo for the group stages after suffering an injury in September. He’s expected to be back for the knockout stages, should Uruguay make it that far, which would be a big lift as the 23-year-old has made impressive strides in recent seasons. Uruguay will likely stick with the familiar pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez, who partnered the Uruguayan backline in 2018 and 2014.

For the South Koreans, they will be sweating the fitness of their star player and talismanic captain Son Heung-Min, who suffered a facial fracture for club side Tottenham in a Champions League encounter with Marseille in the beginning of November. If he is fit to go, Son will be required to wear a protective face mask throughout the entirety of the World Cup. If Son isn’t able to make the starting 11 for the opener, then South Korea will suffer a massive blow as they will be without their main offensive spark and the player they look to for moments of individual magic.

Key Statistics

After taking over as manager following a run of four straight defeats, Uruguay’s Diego Alonso is now 7-1-1 with a +16 goal differential in his nine matches in charge of the side.

Uruguay have kept seven clean sheets and have only conceded two goals in their last nine matches.

Despite having only one loss in the last nine matches, South Korea only faced off against a team ranked higher than themselves once, which resulted in a 3-0 loss to 24th ranked Japan.

South Korea was trounced 5-1 by Brazil the last time they played a team in the top 15 of FIFA’s rankings. Uruguay are currently ranked 14th.

The bet of our experts

We’re going to back Uruguay to kick their campaign off with a win against this South Korean team. Uruguay are legitimate dark horse contenders to make a deep run in this World Cup with their mix of a hugely experienced squad in players like Godin, Cavani and Suarez, as well as and exciting group of young talents which includes one of the best midfield pairings in the competition with Real Madrid’s Fede Valverde and Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur. There’s a clear talent gap between the two sides here which will only be accentuated should Son miss out for the South Koreans. Bet the better side to triumph on the day.

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