South Korea v Portugal: Portugal can rest star men
South Korea v Portugal betting odds, tips and predictions
Portugal have already qualified for the last 16 of World Cup 2022 and that could boost South Korea’s hopes of joining them in the knockout stage.
South Korea are third in Group H and must win to have any hope of leapfrogging second-placed Ghana, who face Uruguay.
Friday’s match at Education City Stadium kicks off at 3pm and is live on the BBC.
Job done for Portugal
Portugal’s dominance of Group H so far means even a defeat could see them claim top spot given they are three points clear of Ghana with a superior goal difference.
They made hard work of beating Ghana 3-2 in their opening match but followed that with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay thanks to a Bruno Fernandes brace.
The Manchester United midfielder said: “The importance of us being first in the group includes us winning the next game, which would allow us to come out of the group undefeated. That is what we want.
“We have a very organised team ahead of us on Friday, and our objective is to take it match by match.”
Rotating the squad would make sense ahead of the knockout stage and odds of 8/13 for the favourites to win look too short in that case, with South Korea or draw looking a better bet at 13/10 in the double chance market.
Korea up against it
South Korea’s hopes are hanging by a thread after they were also involved in a five-goal thriller against Ghana but ended up on the losing side.
The Asian side went 2-0 down but Cho Gue-sung scored twice in three second-half minutes to haul them level before they were beaten by Mohammed Kudus’ winner.
Coach Paulo Bento was sent off for his protests after the full-time whistle but while referee Anthony Taylor was the focus of his anger, it was hard not to feel his frustration at the result was the real issue.
South Korea had previously drawn 0-0 with Uruguay and must go all out for three points here but their defensive record is a concern.
Of the 18 shots they have faced so far, 14 have been struck from inside the box including all three of Ghana’s goals, which was a higher proportion in the first two rounds of matches than any nation except Saudi Arabia.
Leao could be let loose
One of the players hoping to get the chance to shine from the start for Portugal will be Rafael Leao, who has come off the bench in both games.
He netted the third goal against Ghana and will be full of confidence after scoring seven goals for AC Milan in all competitions this season, including a brace against Inter in the Milan derby.
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