South Korea v Portugal
Son Heung-min was seen crying when he left the field after a 3-2 loss against Ghana and with South Korea only on one point it doesn’t look hopeful. They have a chance of qualifying if they beat Portugal and they beat Ghana or Uruguay on goal difference. If Uruguay beat Ghana, they just need to outdo them on goal difference and they are already ahead by one, but there is not much of a chance that all these things swing in their favour.
Portugal are emerging as one of the clear favourites for this edition of the World Cup, boasting class virtually everywhere on the field, including the Manchester-associated quintuple of Ronaldo, Fernandes, Cancelo, Dias and Silva. Players like Rafael Leao, Diogo Dalot and Vitinha don’t even make the starting line-up, which really proves the quality.
Portugal have the luxury of resting some big names in this match and have pretty much secured the top spot of Group H, and are only the third team in this World Cup to win their opening two games after Brazil and France. We have seen a very common theme of teams drawing at half time in this tournament – of the first 32 matches in the first and second round of games, we have seen 17 draws at half time, all of which were 0-0.
Three of the four games played both sides have been drawing at half time, with only South Korea’s match against Ghana being the outlier (2-0 at HT).
HT/FT – DRAW/PORTUGAL
Ghana v Uruguay
The Uruguayans have come into the last few tournaments as a dark horse and have been eliminated in the semi-finals, Round of 16 and then the quarter finals in the last three tournaments. However, this time around they are in a bad position and are bottom of their group with the worst goal difference. Luis Suarez seems like a shadow of his former self after his sabbatical at Nacional where he won the league.
Ghana have been the most entertaining team to watch this World Cup with both of their games having over 4.5 goals (2-3 v Portugal and 3-2 v South Korea). Their attacking threat and lack of defensive prowess is a big part of the reason that they’ve reached over 4.5 goals in both their games so far. However, we don’t expect this trend to carry on with only three of their last 23 matches before the World Cup managing over 3.5 goals (one of 23 with over 4.5 goals).
Diego Alonso knows that Uruguay need to win this game if they are going to make it to the knockout rounds, but Ghana will not make it easy for them and we expect to see lots of cards flying out in this one from both sides. Ghana’s two games have seen ten total cards (four and six) whilst the two Uruguay matches have seen seven cards (five and two) and with both teams needing a result here, tactical fouls are a must.
OVER 3.5 CARDS
Cameroon v Brazil
Brazil entered this tournament as favourites and having barely had to escape second gear to pick up victories over Serbia and Switzerland, they should coast to another result here. The South Americans are now W26-D4-L1 dating back to November 2019, with 20 of those victories accompanied by clean sheets. Brazil have also won nine on the trot, conceding just two goals, while they scored at least four times in over half of these. Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia (all 4-0) as well as South Korea and Tunisia (both 5-1) were blown away, so it’s hard to see anything over than a routine win for the Selecao here.
Cameroon gave it everything in their ding-dong 3-3 draw with Serbia on Tuesday, but having lost their opener to Switzerland, the Indomitable Lions’ chance of making the knockouts rests upon a win here and hoping the Swiss don’t beat Serbia. However, that doesn’t look at all likely and in fact, Cameroon have won just one 17 World Cup games since 1994 (against Saudi Arabia), including eight defeats from the last nine as Brazil thumped them 4-1 in 2014.
Cameroon are without a win in six now, achieving score-draws with Jamaica, Panama and Serbia, as well as failing to score in defeats to Uzbekistan, South Korea and Switzerland. They’ve now failed to score in all five of their defeats this year, so the Brazil win to nil holds obvious appeal. Tite is expected to shuffle the pack in attack, where the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Anthony and Rodrygo will be hoping for minutes, but the defence shouldn’t be tinkered with much.
BRAZIL TO WIN TO NIL
Serbia v Switzerland
Switzerland defended valiantly against Brazil, but were ultimately undone by a moment of quality as a defensive approach failed to yield dividends. Still, their opening day win over Cameroon has left them in a strong position and in all likelihood, avoiding defeat here will safely see them through.
Serbia lost by a bigger margin to Brazil and their failure to fend off Cameroon from a commanding 3-1 lead looks set to be their undoing. Injuries have kept Juventus pair Dusan Vlahovic and Filip Kostic out of their first two games, while Aleksandar Mitrovic isn’t completely fit either, though they could all be involved here.
Experience of tournament football should also play into Switzerland’s hands. Murat Yakin inherited a settled team last year as the Swiss have qualified for the knockouts at each of the past four major tournaments, while they’ve also avoided relegation from League A in the Nations League at all three attempts.
Serbia last reached the knockout stage of a major tournament back in 2000 (as Serbia and Montenegro). They’ve only faced four teams above themselves in FIFA’s world rankings over the past couple of years, producing a W1-D1-L2 record against Portugal (twice), Brazil and Denmark.
SWITZERLAND DRAW NO BET
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