South Korea vs Portugal: Betting tips, predictions, odds & match preview
Portugal have confirmed progression to the World Cup knockouts but they will be vying to confirm top spot in Group H when they finish up against a South Korea side still fighting for their lives on Friday (3pm kick-off, UK time).
Group H reaches a crescendo on Friday afternoon in Qatar as already-qualified Portugal take on South Korea. Bruno Fernandes’ brace against Uruguay sealed knockout progression for Fernando Santos’s side, but South Korea are teetering on the brink of elimination unless they can produce in their final game.
The Taegeuk Warriors‘ task has been made all the more difficult after referee Anthony Taylor dismissed head coach Paulo Bento in the aftermath of the nation’s 3-2 loss to Ghana last time out; and on top of also needing to beat Portugal, they must pray the result in Group H’s other fixture doesn’t go against them.
Ghana are currently in second on three points, while Uruguay sit below South Korea on goal difference. It is still very much all to play for, and all three nations will be oscillating between positions on Friday. The question is: who will finish in the top two come 5pm? It’s a riveting prospect.
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South Korea vs Portugal match stats
To say that Portugal have been slow starters in Qatar would be a gross understatement. Only Spain (eight), England (six) and France (six) scored more than their five goals in the first two rounds, but quite incredibly, all of those strikes have come in the second half. Against Ghana, Portugal bagged three goals between the 65th minute and the 80th, before Fernandes got a brace against Uruguay in the second half. So, don’t switch over if it’s 0-0 at half-time at the Education City Stadium on Friday.
But one way Portugal could avoid a slow start should they want to is by a slight tactical switch. In their first two matches, Fernandes has started on the right of a front three, joined by Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Felix.
However, that has nullified the Manchester United man’s effectiveness for most parts of the game. It is only when he is eventually moved centrally that Fernandes, and Portugal, begin to thrive.
And former Man Utd defender Gary Neville believes Santos cannot start Fernandes on the right anymore.
“Bruno Fernandes to the right – we know he cannot play there, we’ve seen examples at Manchester United – he almost [trudges] over to the right,” Neville told his podcast.
“We know it’s not going to work for him on that side because he’s there, but he doesn’t play it, he doesn’t like it – he’s not got the pace for it – he’s not even good at coming into the holes because he’s a bit awkward there.
“When he went back into midfield with Bernardo Silva and [William] Carvalho was behind with [Rafael] Leao, Joao Felix and Cristiano [Ronaldo] in front I thought that looks pretty good.”
14 Jun 2002 – Portugal 0-1 South Korea – 2002 World Cup
These two nations have only tussled it out once before, coming two decades ago at the 2002 World Cup. Host nation South Korea produced a memorable 1-0 win over Portugal, with Guus Hiddink’s side getting the only goal of the game through Ji-sung Park. Incredibly, South Korea manager Paulo Bento was also playing that afternoon for Friday’s opposition.