Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea make up a fascinating group H. In this group there are teams that are looking to finally become world champions for the first time in a long time and others who will be looking go exorcise demons from their past. All four teams are historically strong in this tournament which makes for a potentially entertaining group.
Obviously the team that involves the greatest international goalscorer of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo will be favorites to advance. Os Navegadores had to go through the playoff rounds after finishing second in their group behind Serbia by a slim margin of three points.
Not far behind them is Uruguay. Ranked as the 13th best national team on the planet, they are only four places below Portugal in ninth an will pose the biggest threat to Portugal’s qualification as winners of the group. They have only failed to qualify for the last 16 once this century but are probably some ways away from replicating the success of their predecessors in 1930 and 1950 who won the World Cup.
The Black Stars of Ghana are making a comeback to the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition in France. They have been going through a tough patch for the last four years and their group stage exit at the last African Cup of Nations could be seen as their lowest point but they managed to get over the line to qualify for the World Cup on goal difference against a Nigeria side that refused to turn up across both legs. Now the black stars are on the rise again and will be going go the World Cup as a stronger force.
South Korea are probably the team least favored to go through. In the 10 World Cup appearances they have made, they have only advanced to the last 16 twice. 2002 was the last time they got into the knockout stages. At the time, they were joint hosts with Japan and even finished fourth remarkably. They have not missed a World Cup appearance since 1986 but have felt like just another nation for the most part. Something has to change for them this year.
The Portuguese and the Uruguayans will be seen as the two countries battling to win the group. The quality gap between them and the other two countries in the group is wide enough to arrive at this conclusion. Portugal edge Uruguay in the talent department not only due to the obvious presence of Cristiano Ronaldo but also the depth they possess in key areas that could be crucial in swaying results in their favour.
This is not to say Uruguay don’t possess plenty of talent of their own, they were, in fact, the country that knocked Portugal out of the World Cup last time around. If they are not the team to win the group, they will expect to qualify in second place and once again advance to the last 16.
Ghana, as well as South Korea, are definitely in the run in for qualification. Ghana especially will have a score to settle in the picture against Luis Suarez’s Uruguay after the events of the 2010 World Cup. They will be looking for revenge and emotion is a very important component of this sport. It could drive them to victory, perhaps.
South Korea have a squad with good players and won’t be pus overs in the tournament either. They won’t back down from anyone and try to put their best foot forward.
Five time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo is an easy pick for best player in the group. He leads a phenomenally assembled Portugal team that also boasts of attacking talent such as Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Bruno Fernandes and Bernado Silva to name a few. There is quality strength in depth on this team and Portugal coach Fernando Santos will have enough game changers to choose from on his quest to lead his team to their first World Cup triumph ever.
In Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay can lay claim to having two of the greatest strikers of the last 15 years playing for their country. Both players have been crucial to any success their country have attained in the last decade and a half. They have made a combined 265 appearances and have scored 126 goals between them. At 35 years old, both players will not be on this stage much longer. This will most likely be their final tournament together and they will do everything possible to end it on the highest note possible.
Though they will be a huge loss to the team when they retire, Liverpool striker and club record signing Darwin Nunez will be there to continue the legacy of great Uruguyan strikers. The 23 year old striker looks like he is finally finding form for his club after a stop start first few months in England. His timing could not be better just under 25 days until the tournament starts.
World Cup qualification has come with its perks. The allure of playing at the world cup has lead to talented players like Tariq Lamptey, Inaki Williams, Eddie Nketiah and Callum Hudson-Odoi opt to represent the Black Stars. These are players that ply their trade in Europe’s top five leagues will instantly become key players for the nation.
Add these new talents to the likes of Thomas Partey, Kalmadeen Sulemana and an emerging talent like Mohammed Kudus, you have a young and exciting squad ready to open a lot of eyes in Qatar as long as they gel as a team fast enough.
South Korea can boast of having the best player on the Asian continent in Heung Min Son. The Tottenham Hotspur forward and multiple time Asian player of the year winner will try to lead his side to the knockout stages od the World Cup for the first time since 2002.
At his age, he is already one of the best in European football in his position. If the 23 year old can replicate his form at club level for his country, he will not only help Portugal go far in the tournament but become the best young player in the tournament as well.
This 21 year old full back has seen his development hampered by injury. Thankfully for Lamptey, his limited gametime means that he is more likely to play at the World Cup. He has every attribute to make it to the very top as a fullback and the World Cup represents and opportunity for him to show the world once again why he is so highly rated.
The Manchester United youngster has impressed for the Uruguayan national team though he hasnt featured much for Manchester United’s first team this season. At 20, Pellistri has become a key feature for his country and is seen as the future of the nation on the flank. He could be primed for a big tournament.