South Korea, Ghana, Uruguay, Serbia and Cameroon are all vying for a spot in the knockout round in Friday’s matches, while Brazil and Portugal have already qualified.
Group H: South Korea vs Portugal (Education City Stadium, 6pm)
Group H: Ghana vs Uruguay (Al Janoub Stadium, 6pm)
Group G: Serbia vs Switzerland (Stadium 974, 10pm)
Group G: Cameroon vs Brazil (Lusail Iconic Stadium, 10pm)
Cristiano Ronaldo and company head comfortably into Friday’s match after edging Ghana and clobbering Uruguay, while South Korea, for their part, will be thrust into a do-or-die moment after mustering just a single point following a scoreless stalemate with Uruguay.
South Korea, however, could take inspiration from their 2002 World Cup 1-0 win over Portugal, where they progressed to the last 16 for a semi-final run, knocking the Seleção das Quinas out.
Coach Paulo Bento will not be helming South Korea’s bench after he was shown a red card for a late-game outburst in his team’s bout with Ghana.
“Qualification is guaranteed but we also want 1st place,” Ronaldo tweeted before the match. “There are no limits for this team or our goals. Let’s go for more! Strength Portugal!”
O apuramento está garantido mas queremos também o 1.º lugar. Não há limites para esta equipa nem para os nossos objectivos. Vamos por mais! Força Portugal!🇵🇹🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/BeQFNW3GsR
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 1, 2022
For Ghana, the lowest-ranked team at the World Cup, a draw against the South Americans could be enough to propel them into the last 16. But that is only if Portugal can dismantle a feisty South Korea in their Friday confrontation. Ghana were bested by Portugal but showed promise in fending off a spirited South Korea on Monday.
For Uruguay to find the win column at Al Janoub Stadium, veterans Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani — who have struggled thus far — will need to sparkle.
Ghana, meanwhile, have their sights set on redemption, after Uruguay dealt the Black Stars an ignominious quarter-final defeat at South Africa’s 2010 World Cup.
It is going to be a daunting uphill trek for Serbia to make the knockout stage, though.
Not only must Serbia overcome the 15th-ranked Swiss, led by Granit Xhaka, by a sizable goal margin, but they will also depend on Cameroon to slide past Brazil for a narrow victory.
Switzerland, sitting at three points, are poised to join Brazil in the last 16. A win will get them there, but so would a draw, but only if underdogs Cameroon can outshine a dominant Brazil.
If so, the Indomitable Lions will need to play their best after a loss to Switzerland and a draw with Serbia. Keep your eyes on striker Vincent Aboubakar, who ensured Cameroon’s survival after netting arguably one of the 2022 World Cup’s most spectacular goals against Serbia.
Brazil, who have already qualified for the tournament’s knockout stages, are expected to rest many of their top players in Friday’s game. It is unclear if Neymar, sidelined from the group stages due to injury, could make a knockout stage comeback.
Brazil will take on one of the Group H opponents — Portugal, Ghana, South Korea or Uruguay — in the knockout stage. They will play the group’s runners-up with a win on Friday. A loss could spell a potential showdown with Portugal, depending on how things shake out on Friday.
Have you missed out on any of the World Cup action? Al Jazeera English has you covered. See which teams have progressed — and which ones are going home — here. Looking to flex your football foresight? Look no further than Kashef, our artificial intelligence (AI) predictor, who’s calling all the matches in Qatar.