In the last seven editions, the Canarinho have always cleared the Round of 16 phase and won the tournament twice, in 1994 and 2002. The last time the five-time champions were eliminated before the quarter-finals was in 1990, when arch-rivals Argentina knocked them out in the Round of 16 at the World Cup. South Korea were named the World Cup’s most entertaining team back in 2002 when they were co-hosts with Japan and finished in fourth place. 20 years later, the Taegeuk Warriors could still be in contention for something similar because they clinched the final Round of 16 spot ahead of Ghana and Uruguay after beating Portugal.
Tournament favourites Brazil were dealt a couple of injury blows after their final group stage encounter with Brazil but are relieved to see their linchpin Neymar back in training before a crucial Round of 16 encounter with a poised South Korean side in the FIFA World Cup 2022. The two agile and attack-minded teams will clash at Stadium 974 in Qatar on Tuesday, December 6, with the victor going through to face either Croatia or Japan in the quarter-finals.
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In the previous World Cup, Brazil reached the quarter-finals before Belgium dumped them out of the competition. In the last seven editions, the Canarinho have always cleared the Round of 16 phase and won the tournament twice, in 1994 and 2002. The last time the five-time champions were eliminated before the quarter-finals was in 1990, when arch-rivals Argentina knocked them out in the Round of 16 at the World Cup.
The charts were all green for Brazil till the last group-stage encounter against Cameroon last time around. A second-string Brazilian side faced their first-ever loss to an African nation at the World Cup, also losing their 17-game unbeaten streak in the group stage at the grandest stage of world football. However, Tite’s first-choice starting eleven notched victories and clean sheets against Serbia and Switzerland, confirming their passage to the Round of 16 with a game to spare.
The men in yellow and blue lost the game against Cameroon and also lost Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus and Sevilla’s Alex Telles to long-term injuries, ruling them out of the World Cup. The two players joined Juventus’ Alex Sandro and PSG’s Neymar on the sidelines. However, in the latest training session, Neymar was spotted with the first team and trained with them, giving a massive boost to Tite and the rest of the team. Losing two left-backs in Sandro and Telles could leave the Canarinho a tad vulnerable on that flank as Tite may have to come up with a make-shift solution for that position.
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South Korea were named the World Cup’s most entertaining team back in 2002 when they were co-hosts with Japan and reached the semi-finals, eventually ending in fourth place. 20 years later, the Taegeuk Warriors could still be in contention for something similar, considering the fact that they beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to clinch the Round of 16 spot ahead of Ghana and Uruguay. Reaching the last-16 is quite an achievement for Paulo Bento’s side as they were eliminated in the group stages of the last two editions.
In their opening game of the tournament, South Korea held Uruguay to a goalless draw before they went on to lose a five-goal thriller against Ghana. Hanging by a thread, the Taegeuk Warriors earned a 2-1 victory over a second-fiddle Portugal side to snatch the last qualifying spot away from Uruguay in dramatic fashion. Bento’s men trailed just five minutes into the game before Young-gwon Kim equalised in the 27th minute, and Hee-chan Hwang turned it around in the 91st minute.
This will be the first time Brazil and South Korea face each other at the grandest stage. Bento will have the full squad at his disposal to pick the strongest side against the Canarinho. The 53-year-old is likely to field the same eleven that beat Portugal against Brazil. The five Kims in defence have featured in all games so far, getting themselves familiarised with the tempo and intensity of the games. Tottenham’s Heung-min Son will still have his protective mask on whilst he operates down the left flank with prolific Gue-sung Cho up top.
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Team News: For Brazil, Alex Telles and Gabriel Jesus have been ruled out for the rest of the tournament, while full-backs Alex Sandro and Danilo are doubtful ahead of the game. Neymar is back in training and could start from the bench or could also be named in the starting eleven, depending on his fitness level. For South Korea, there are no injury concerns.
Form Guide: (Last five matches, most recent first)
Brazil: L - W - W - W - W
South Korea: W - L - D - W - W
Brazil Wins: 6
South Korea Wins: 1
Betting Odds: (Bet365)
South Korea: 13.00
Brazil Possible Starting 11 (4-3-3): Allison; Militao, Marquinhos, Silva, Fred; Casemiro, Fabinho, Paqueta; Vinicius, Richarlison, Raphinha.
South Korea Possible Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Seung-gyu Kim; Moon-hwan Kim, Min-jae Kim, Young-gwon Kim, Jin-su Kim; In-beom Hwang, Woo-young Jung; Hee-chan Hwang, Jae-sung Lee, Heung-min Son; Gue-sung Cho.
Brazil 2 - 1 South Korea
Where to watch and match timing: The match will kick off at 12:30 AM IST on Tuesday, December 6, and will be beamed live on Sports18 and Sports18 HD. Fans can also stream the action online on JioCinema’s official website.