World Cup Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea

Remark

This group is among the tougher to foretell forward of this World Cup. Portugal is No. 9 in FIFA’s rankings, but additionally wanted two wins within the playoffs to even safe its spot in Qatar. It stays to be seen if Uruguay can lastly put all of the items collectively and advance deep into the knockout phases of a serious match. South Korea, as in years previous, will hope that its supporting solid can do sufficient to assist its star, whereas Ghana holds the No. 61 rating, the bottom of any staff within the World Cup discipline.

Right here’s a better have a look at Group H, which kicks off Nov. 24 when Uruguay faces South Korea and Portugal takes on Ghana.

For a staff that counts one of many largest stars in all of sports activities as its captain, Portugal got here dangerously near lacking out on the world’s largest occasion. The Portuguese wanted two dramatic wins within the playoffs this spring to safe their place within the World Cup. In a manageable group with world celebrity Cristiano Ronaldo on the helm — taking part in in what could possibly be his ultimate main match — they’ll hope their highway in Qatar is smoother than the highway they took to it.


Portugal

within the World Cup

Portugal has been within the final 5 World Cups. Its finest end was third in 1966.

Portugal

within the World Cup

Portugal has been within the final 5 World Cups. Its finest end was third in 1966.

Portugal

within the World Cup

Portugal has been within the final 5 World Cups. Its finest end was third in 1966.

Portugal has no scarcity of expertise, however its squad has struggled to dwell as much as its full potential since successful the European Championship in 2016. Its journey to Russia in 2018 ended with a disappointing loss to Uruguay — a group-mate this 12 months — within the spherical of 16. It counts a UEFA Nations League in 2019 among the many trophies received beneath Fernando Santos, however its Thirteenth-place end at Euro 2020 was the bottom within the nation’s historical past.

After final summer time, Portugal took the lengthy route via qualifying. A dispiriting draw with Eire and a loss to group-leader Serbia within the ultimate two matches of UEFA’s Group A meant that the Navegadores couldn’t qualify for Qatar straight, they usually have been pressured to enter the European qualifying playoffs. Portugal wanted a 3-1 win over Turkey after which a 2-0 win towards North Macedonia to safe its place.


Coach

Fernando Santos

68 years outdated

The Premier League is well-represented right here: Ten gamers on Portugal’s roster in September got here from three English groups (Manchester United, Manchester Metropolis and Wolverhampton Wanderers). Midfielder Bruno Fernandes, a United teammate of Ronaldo’s who is understood for his goal-scoring and creativity, got here off the bench in Russia however can have a way more important function this time round. Middle again Rúben Dias, proper again João Cancelo and midfielder Bernardo Silva all star for Metropolis.


Cristiano Ronaldo

37 years outdated, Funchal, Portugal

Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo

37 years outdated, Funchal, Portugal

Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo

37 years outdated, Funchal, Portugal

Manchester United

Nineteen years after his nationwide staff debut, the 37-year-old Ronaldo continues to be Portugal’s undoubted star, well-established as his nation’s all-time chief in appearances and objectives. He’s slowed down on the membership stage since his days because the winger main Actual Madrid to Champions League titles, however nonetheless possesses the game-changing scoring capacity that made him one of many world’s most well-known athletes.

All eyes will probably be watching to see if Ronaldo can arrange a gathering with Lionel Messi, the previous Barcelona star and longtime rival who can be doubtless taking part in at his ultimate World Cup, within the knockout rounds. The 2 final confronted one another on the membership stage within the Champions League in 2020, however they’ve solely performed representing their nationwide groups twice: a 2-1 Argentina win in 2011 and a 1-0 Portugal victory in 2014.

The Black Stars arrive at their fourth World Cup on the heels of a turbulent 12 months. After a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations efficiency and a managerial change, they’ll attempt to flip the nook in Qatar.


Ghana reached the quarterfinals in 2010, dropping on penalties to Uruguay.

Ghana reached the quarterfinals in 2010, dropping on penalties to Uruguay.

Ghana reached the quarterfinals in 2010, dropping on penalties to Uruguay.

The Ghananians’ World Cup historical past is brief however noteworthy. They’ve performed high-profile matches towards the USA at every of their three tournaments, successful in 2006 and 2010 however dropping in 2014. The Dec. 2 group-stage match towards Uruguay on this version is bound to be circled on their calendars. It’ll be a rematch of an notorious 2010 quarterfinal in South Africa, when a controversial handball save by Luis Suárez denied Ghana a visit to the semifinals.

Within the hopes of reviving the nationwide staff at this 12 months’s AFCON, the Black Stars introduced again Milovan Rajevac, the Serbian supervisor who’d led them on that run to the quarterfinals in 2010. It was a short-lived stint: Ghana hit a brand new low, dropping to No. 132 Comoros — a rustic taking part in in its first continental match — and failing to advance out of the group stage. Rajevac was sacked and changed by former nationwide staff winger Otto Addo simply earlier than the ultimate spherical of qualifying. Going through off towards Nigeria, Ghana earned a 0-0 draw on house soil on March 25 after which its place with a 1-1 tie on the highway — because of an early rating by Thomas Partey, the Black Stars superior on FIFA’s away objectives rule.


Coach

Otto Addo

47 years outdated

Ghana has a strong variety of gamers plying their commerce in England: Partey is in Arsenal’s midfield, Jordan Ayew patrols the entrance line for Crystal Palace and Daniel Amartey is a defender at Leicester Metropolis. André Ayew (older brother of Jordan) now performs in Qatar’s high league and is previous his peak days, however continues to be the squad’s captain. There’s additionally a promising array of younger abilities prone to make their World Cup debuts: Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus (age 22), Rennes winger Kalmadeen Sulemana (20) and striker Felix Afena-Gyan, a 19-year-old who broke out at Roma final season.

In July, Iñaki Williams, a Spain-born ahead for Athletic Bilbao, and Tariq Lamptey, a wing again at Brighton in England, reclassified their nationalities and have become eligible to symbolize Ghana. They made their first appearances for the Black Stars in September towards Brazil and Nicaragua.


Thomas Partey

29 years outdated, Odumase Krobo, Ghana

Arsenal

Thomas Partey

29 years outdated, Odumase Krobo, Ghana

Arsenal

Thomas Partey

29 years outdated, Odumase Krobo, Ghana

Arsenal

Partey turned the costliest Ghanaian participant of all time when he moved to Arsenal in 2020 after 5 full seasons with Atlético Madrid. He’s had blended ends in London, lacking a lot of final season’s end and the beginning of this 12 months’s Premier League marketing campaign with a thigh harm, however when wholesome continues to be the largest star on his nationwide staff. The 29-year-old had three objectives throughout World Cup qualifying and has been named the nation’s high participant in two of the final 4 years.

A two-time World Cup winner, the nation of three.5 million — sequestered between two giants in Argentina and Brazil — has all the time had an outsize affect on the world’s recreation. But it’s additionally spent the final decade looking for one other style of a trophy. After a bumpy stretch, Uruguay has gotten again on monitor this 12 months beneath the steering of Diego Alonso.


Uruguay hosted and received the primary ever World Cup in 1930 and received its second in 1950.

Uruguay hosted and received the primary ever World Cup in 1930 and received its second in 1950.

Uruguay hosted and received the primary ever World Cup in 1930 and received its second in 1950.

The Uruguayans completed fourth on the 2010 World Cup, their finest outcome since Mexico 1970. They {followed} that run with a Copa América title in 2011, the nation’s first in 16 years. On the previous two World Cups, they haven’t superior additional than the quarterfinals: The 2014 round-of-16 exit was marred by Luis Suárez’s ban for a biting incident and in 2o18, it misplaced to France.

Uruguay had a rocky highway to Qatar. Final fall, it misplaced 4 qualifiers in a row — by a mixed rating of 11-1, no much less — and sacked beloved supervisor Óscar Tabárez after 15 years in cost. Alonso’s arrival helped steer the ship, although, and the Uruguayans received his first 4 video games, conceding solely as soon as, to qualify. In June, it confronted the USA in a pleasant and left Kansas Metropolis, Kan., with a 0-0 draw.


Coach

Diego Alonso

47 years outdated

Suárez and Edinson Cavani have been faces of the Uruguayan assault on the World Cup since 2010, after they each debuted on the key stage as 23-year-olds. The previous stays Uruguay’s all-time main scorer and this summer time moved again to his boyhood membership, Nacional, in Montevideo after a protracted and profitable (albeit, typically controversial) run in Europe. He and Cavani, now at Valencia in Spain, are each 35 however determine to nonetheless play important roles.

Federico Valverde (Actual Madrid) and Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham) are each youthful abilities, whereas Flamengo’s Giorgian de Arrascaeta was the nation’s second-leading scorer with 5 objectives in qualifying. The again line has seen a string of accidents previously 12 months, however defenders like José Giménez, Ronald Araújo and Diego Godín are spectacular when wholesome.


Darwin Núñez

23 years outdated, Artigas, Uruguay

Liverpool

Darwin Núñez

23 years outdated, Artigas, Uruguay

Liverpool

Darwin Núñez

23 years outdated, Artigas, Uruguay

Liverpool

In South Africa, Suárez was the younger striker taking part in alongside a longtime star. He completed that match with three objectives behind Diego Forlán’s 5 and was named to FIFA’s all-star staff. In Qatar, the roles could possibly be reversed, with Suárez the skilled veteran and Darwin Núñez the rising star.

The 23-year-old striker was one of the crucial sought-after gamers on the switch market this summer time after a 26-goal marketing campaign with Benfica, finally turning into Liverpool’s file signing in June. Núñez scored in his debut for La Celeste in 2019 and in a pleasant vs. Canada final month, however has but to symbolize his nation in a serious match after lacking the 2021 Copa América with a knee harm.

This 12 months will mark precisely 20 years since South Korea’s most memorable second on soccer’s largest stage: The Taegeuk Warriors had by no means received a World Cup recreation of their historical past earlier than 2002, however went on a run all the best way to the semifinals and completed in fourth place. The competitors on this 12 months’s group received’t make their path ahead any simpler this 12 months, however they do have one of many match’s — and the game’s — largest stars and will probably be value watching.


South Korea

within the World Cup

South Korea’s finest outcome was on the World Cup it hosted in 2002, the place it reached the semifinals.

South Korea

within the World Cup

South Korea’s finest outcome was on the World Cup it hosted in 2002, the place it reached the semifinals.

South Korea

within the World Cup

South Korea’s finest outcome was on the World Cup it hosted in 2002, the place it reached the semifinals.

South Korea hasn’t missed a World Cup since 1982, however previously 4 tournaments, it has solely superior previous the group stage as soon as. The 2018 version in Russia wasn’t with out its highlights, although: It knocked out defending champion Germany in a dramatic 2-0 group-stage win dubbed “The Miracle of Kazan.”

The South Koreans sealed their tenth consecutive World Cup look with a win over Syria in February. They performed that qualifier with out talismanic star Son Heung-min, however nonetheless managed to earn the automated berth. In a crowded Group H, South Korea does maintain the latest head-to-head benefit over each Portugal (a 1-0 group-stage win in 2002) and Uruguay (a 2-1 victory in a 2018 pleasant in Seoul).


Coach

Paulo Bento

53 years outdated

The largest query for the Taegeuk Warriors is identical because it was in 2018: Can they discover sufficient supporting solid members to fill within the items behind a star as huge and vibrant as Son? Nearly all of South Korea’s gamers come from the home Okay League, however just a few mess around Europe. Hwang Hee-chan, a 26-year-old ahead nicknamed “The Bull,” is in his second season at Wolverhampton Wanderers within the Premier League. Middle again Kim Min-jae is having a career-best season at Napoli in Serie A, whereas 26-year-old Hwang In-beom and skilled scorer Hwang Ui-jo are each at Olympiacos in Greece.


Son Heung-min

30 years outdated, Chuncheon-si, South Korea

Tottenham Hotspur

Son Heung-min

30 years outdated, Chuncheon-si, South Korea

Tottenham Hotspur

Son Heung-min

30 years outdated, Chuncheon-si, South Korea

Tottenham Hotspur

South Korea could not advance previous the group stage, however Son continues to be positive to be one of many stars in Qatar this fall. (He’s one of many most-followed Asian athletes on Instagram, and his stage of fame on the continent rivals — or surpasses — that of a few of the nation’s largest Okay-pop teams.)

He’s not unhealthy on the sphere, both: The Tottenham winger received the Premier League’s Golden Boot with 23 objectives final season and is fourth on his nation’s all-time scoring record. He had additionally seven objectives for South Korea through the qualifying marketing campaign. After a gradual begin this season with Tottenham, Son opened his purpose account simply earlier than the worldwide break with a second-half hat trick in September.

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