Uruguay vs Korea Republic
Education City Stadium forms the backdrop for the third World Cup encounter between Uruguay and Korea Republic, with the South Americans winning both previous H2Hs via a single-goal margin.
Uruguay’s 14th World Cup participation and fourth in succession since 2010 will mark the final dance of formidable duo Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. With their long-serving stalwarts preparing for one last crack at world football supremacy before hanging up their boots, ‘La Celeste’ will fancy their chances of making it out of the group stages for the fourth tournament running for starters. Having lost just once this calendar year (W7, D1), Diego Alonso’s men could be forgiven for dreaming big this winter, especially after capping off a topsy-turvy CONMEBOL qualifying campaign on a run of four straight victories. Kicking things off from day one has been a problem for Uruguay, though, with the South Americans registering just one matchday-one triumph in their last seven World Cup appearances (D3, L3).
As for South Korea, an eye-catching return of one defeat from ten third-round matches of Asian qualifiers (W7, D2) catapulted them into their tenth consecutive World Cup participation, a formidable run stretching back to 1986. But with Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min headlining the attack, it’s a bit awkward that the ‘Taegeuk Warriors’ netted a blunt average of 1.3 goals per match across those ten qualifying fixtures. Yet they were almost impeccable at the back, conceding only three goals in that span, fewer than any other Asian nation to have participated in the third-round qualifying stage. After waving goodbye to their World Cup journeys in the group phase across their last two forays into the tournament, Paulo Bento’s men have a point to prove in Qatar, which could make them an unpleasant opposition.