Uruguay vs South Korea Prediction
24th November 2022
13:00 Qatar Time/10:00 GMT
Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Current Form (Last Five Matches):
Uruguay vs South Korea Prediction Match Overview
In the opening game of group H, 14th ranked Uruguay, appearing at their fourth successive World Cup tournament, face 28th ranked South Korea, who have been World Cup ever-presents since Mexico 1986. Though Uruguay were initially disappointing in their attempts to qualify from the CONMEBOL section, they were victorious in their final four games to reach the tournament proper. South Korea for their part qualified relatively comfortably, although the CONMEBOL section has long been recognised as difficult to qualify from due to a lack of ‘easy’ games.
Both teams appear to be in good form. The Uruguayans have conceded one goal in their last five friendly matches in the process of securing victories against Mexico (3-0), Panama (5-0) and Canada (2-0). A 0-0 draw against the USA and a 1-0 defeat to Iran will perhaps be of slight concern as they would expect to be finding the net against this level of opposition, however, friendly matches aren’t always instructive. South Korea are coming into the tournament off the back of two consecutive 1-0 victories against Iceland and Cameroon and a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, to restore some credibility following a heavy 3-0 defeat to neighbours and rivals Japan during the summer.
Injuries and Suspensions
Will not play:
Might not play: Kim Jin-su, Son Heung-min (South Korea)
Will not play: Araujo (Uruguay)
Uruguay vs South Korea Prediction Analysis
South Korea under Bento are likely to stick to their plan to play more expansive football, and indeed they stuck with this style even amid a heavy 5-1 friendly defeat at the hands of a strong Brazilian side, so we don’t foresee this changing against the Uruguayans. Central to this will be the efforts of industrious midfielder Lee Jae-sung and Napoli’s Kim Min-Jae in the heart of the defence. The pair will be crucial in ensuring that the South Koreans aren’t overrun in midfield as Uruguay tend to play with a 4-2-2-2 formation that compacts the play and makes them difficult to play through. Kim Min-jae in particular will be relied upon to provide an outlet to help them build from the back against the hard-pressing Uruguayans. Should they be able to play through the press, we can expect the Koreans to try to play the ball wide at every opportunity as this is likely to be where the available space is. Son Heung-min is the obvious choice for their playmaking efforts and will no doubt be the subject of double or perhaps triple marking by Uruguay by the likes of Varela, Godin and Torreira, which perhaps will free up space for the likes of Hwang Hee-chan and Jeong Woo-yeong but they may be in for a difficult night as Godin’s central defensive partner is his former Atletico Madrid teammate Jose Maria Gimenez.
This expansive approach may well play into the hands of the Uruguayans, who possess obvious and potent threats in attack with Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez, capably supported by Federico Valverde and Nicolas de la Cruz with technically adept distributors at the base of midfield in the form of Rodrigo Bentancur and Lucas Torreira. Should the South Koreans overcommit as they have been accused of doing at times under Bento, we can expect the Uruguayans to transition quickly to attack and take advantage of any vacated spaces, as they are wont to do under Diego Alonso. This promises to be a fascinating tactical battle as the South Koreans are unlikely to withdraw into their shell and Alonso is likely to start both Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez as a statement of intent.
Uruguay Key Players
While teammate Darwin Nunez has stolen the headlines in Uruguay of late for his big-money move to Liverpool, Suarez is vital to how Uruguay attacks in the final third and is still scoring goals and creating opportunities for others regularly. Suarez is likely to be able to find space in which to operate here by dropping off the Korean defenders and will look to play in others first in what will be more of a support striker role than perhaps he was used to performing in the past. Suarez’s excellent technical ability, footballing intelligence and ability to produce the unexpected means the Uruguayans are likely to look to him to produce something special.
Uruguay will look to attack quickly and directly to take advantage of positional mistakes by the Koreans and central to this ambition will be Bentancur’s calm head and expansive range of passing. Due to their 4-2-2-2 formation, Bentancur will have plenty of options in the middle of the park to thread passes to, and the more that the Uruguayans can get the Spurs man on the ball the more likely it is that they will dominate the midfield and force the South Koreans into a more direct plan B which would suit Uruguay more than it would South Korea.
South Korea Key Players
To nobody’s great surprise, the Premier League’s joint-leading goalscorer last season is a key player for the South Koreans. His attacking versatility will be vital to South Korea’s chances in this game as he will be required to act as a floating attacker to escape his markers and find space. Luckily, this is one of Son’s strengths, as he is comfortable with both feet, and possesses a great deal of pace and technical ability. He can normally be relied upon to take the chances that present themselves in front of goal and the Uruguayans won’t be able to switch off even for a split second.
South Korea’s rock at the back, Kim is just as important for his ability to play the ball out from the back as he is for his defensive prowess, and in a game where South Korea will be required to beat an aggressive Uruguayan press, we will see Kim’s importance come into focus. He is also capable of launching counter-attacks via raking long balls when the opportunity arises and this versatility may be of huge importance if South Korea need to find another way through.
Uruguay vs South Korea Prediction
A fascinating tactical battle will likely be won in the centre of the park by the Uruguayans, who will use their superior talent and numbers in midfield to get the ball quickly to their danger men. The South Koreans will probably be able to make their mark in the game too and will test the Uruguayan defence with an ageing Diego Godin who hasn’t seen much football to the limit.