Uruguay vs South Korea: Betting tips, predictions, odds & match preview
Uruguay and South Korea face off in an important Group H encounter where both nations will know that their qualification from the group could depend on this result. This clash will take place at 1pm on Thursday (UK time).
The CONMEBOL qualification is always a tough marathon. While Brazil and Argentina are practically guaranteed a spot in the automatic qualification positions, only two other automatic spots are available for eight nations.
Uruguay have a better record than most of getting themselves in there, but things looked dicey when on matchday 14, La Celeste lost 3-0 in Bolivia. However, the famous backs-against-the-wall spirit that Uruguay seem to carry in spades came to the fore and they finished the campaign with four straight victories to finish third in the table and secure passage to Qatar.
They were massively helped in this by the new breed of Uruguayan stars. While Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Godin have pushed themselves to one more World Cup, the likes of Fede Valverde, Nicolas De La Cruz, and Rodrigo Bentancur are the physical leaders of the team on the pitch.
The lack of pace in certain parts of the Uruguayan team could be a target for the South Koreans in this match. As always, the Korean Republic team come into a tournament with endless athleticism and stamina in most areas of the pitch. While there is a perceived lack of quality in central midfield, they have real stars in both boxes.
The doubts over Son Heung-Min persist ahead of this opening encounter, but there are recognised names from Europe in the forward areas to replace him. Meanwhile, Kim Min-jae is in incredible form at Napoli this season and heads up an experienced and capable defensive unit.
It is this defence that South Korea will be relying upon to lay the platform for their progression. Although the AFC qualification has proven to be very straightforward for the Taeguek Warriors, this is their 10th consecutive World Cup Finals appearance, their xG against over the last 12 matches (0.26xG per 90) is lower than any other nation.
In a low-scoring, low-margin encounter, it is always useful to have the draw on your side and with Uruguay heavy favourites for this encounter, taking a double chance about South Korea getting something from the game is an appealing angle.
There are five members of the Uruguayan squad with over 100 caps, with four of them the leading four appearance makers for La Celeste in their history. Diego Godin, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Fernando Muslera will march on to ever higher marks in this tournament. Suarez and Cavani are, unsurprisingly, Uruguay’s best ever goalscorers, with 68 and 58 goals respectively. Suarez is still top scorer in 2022 as well with eight so far this calendar year.
While Son Heung-min is South Korea’s highest scorer in 2022, he scored only 19% of South Korea’s output. This proves that there is more to South Korea than just Son. At the back, Kim Min-jae will be tasked with trying to keep a lid on Uruguay’s formidable strike force. The Napoli defender has already twice faced Nunez in the Champions League against Liverpool this season and currently ranks third in Serie A for aerial duels won (43) and possessions won in the defensive third (51). He has also won the second-most interceptions among defenders in the Champions League this term (14).