Uruguay and South Korea to serve up thrilling draw
Uruguay and South Korea kick off their 2022 World Cup bids on Thursday afternoon at the Education City Stadium in Al-Rayyan. Group H is bound to a highly competitive pool, with Portugal and Ghana also in the mix. A win for either side in their opener could shore up their hopes of advancing to the last 16. Read our preview here:
Valverde on the verge
The last time the sides faced each other in a competitive game was in the last 16 of the World Cup in South Africa 12 years ago. Luis Suárez scored the clincher in a 2-1 win 10 minutes from time on the way to a fourth place finish. Now 35, he is set to lead the line in what is set to be his last major tournament for La Celeste. This time though, Diego Alonso could opt for a three-pronged attack rather than relying on the Suárez-Edinson Cavani partnership of yore, though the latter is also in the squad. Darwin Núñez and Manchester United youngster Facundo Pellistri are set to flank him instead, and much of the thrust from midfield will come from Real Madrid's Federico Valverde. Often playing on the right of a front three for Carlo Ancelotti's men, he will instead rove forwards on the underlap, testing a stout South Korean backline's resolve at every possible opportunity, as his nine goals already this term are evidence of.
The main focus for Paulo Bento's Taeguk Warriors has obviously been on Heung-min Son's eye socket fracture in the weeks building up to making their bow in Qatar. The Tottenham Hotspur superstar is set to don a mask during matches, though there are still big doubts as to whether he'll feature in the first match. Should he start, he'll be on the left of a 4-3-3 shape that will mirror their opponents. However, equally as important as what Son and co can do up top is the defensive masterclass Napoli's much-coveted towering centre back Min-Jae Kim often puts on. A colossus in the air with pace to match, he will lead his teammates in repelling high crosses and balls in behind the back four.
betway have odds of 5.25 for a draw and both teams to score in what is sure to be an intriguing, competitive fixture.