World Cup squad preview: Portugal barely favourite in a gaggle the place Luis Suarez will reunite along with his 2010 sufferer Ghana

Every day we are going to current you with a abstract of the completely different teams of the FIFA World Cup. Coach, star, ambition and statistics to recollect, every workforce is scrutinized. For the final group of those displays, we are going to inform you in regards to the ambitions of a proficient Portugal however which doesn’t unleash the passions within the sport, the reunion of Uruguay and Ghana twelve years after the hand of Luis Suarez and a South Korea centered round a single star.

Portugal

Coach: Fernando Santos

Fernando Santos, 68, has been in control of the Portuguese choice since 2014. Since then, he has already needed to face a whole lot of criticism. Nonetheless, he managed to win the EURO in France in 2016, which stays the one actual trophy within the historical past of the Portuguese nationwide workforce. He adopted that up with a Nations League win in 2019. Nonetheless, many questions stay about Santos’ type of play. For such an opulent attacking workforce, the Portuguese play too usually with out inspiration. A discovering illustrated by the truth that Portugal received the EURO with just one victory after 90 minutes (towards Wales within the semi-final). Beneath Santos, the defensive block is stable, however regardless of the attacking expertise, nobody actually ignites the sport up entrance. Furthermore, the disappointing ends in the 2018 World Cup and EURO 2021 put further stress on the coach’s shoulders. We surprise what it would give.

The star: Rafael Leão. (behind Cristiano Ronaldo)

Do not select Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal is blasphemy. However what to write down in regards to the 37-year-old striker that hasn’t already been mentioned? On high of that, it is debatable whether or not the soccer icon continues to be Portugal’s undisputed celebrity. His poor type at Manchester United this season raises the query of succession. It exists in all strains of the sphere. Simply take into consideration Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias The place Joao Felix… Nevertheless, a participant who might unleash passions at this World Cup: Rafael Leão. The nimble winger performed an important function in AC Milan’s title win final season. If Leão can affirm his type in Qatar and get sufficient probabilities, he’s a kind of who might turn into the face of this World Cup.

If Cristiano Ronaldo is absolutely the star of Portugal, a sure Rafael Leao might emerge from his shadow throughout this World Cup in Qatar. (Photograph by Pedro Fiuza/NurPhoto through Getty Photos)

The ambition: a quarter-final not less than

Anybody who seems on the listing of Portuguese gamers sees it as a title contender. The celebrities are quite a few and play in the most effective golf equipment on the earth. There are skilled professionals, gamers on the high of their sport and younger skills aplenty. Nonetheless, a detrimental ambiance surrounds the workforce, which did not impress within the final two main tournaments and completed solely second to Serbia of their qualifying group. Santos’ magic appears to have died down and lots of gamers are struggling to be constant. 1 / 4-final due to this fact appears to be a logical consequence.

The determine: 115

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 115 instances for Portugal. No participant has ever finished higher. He might have missed his begin this season, however the captain will probably be current on the World Cup. Over the past {qualifications}, he was nonetheless the highest scorer of the Portuguese choice with six objectives in eight matches. With Manchester United not contesting the Champions League this 12 months, this may very well be their final outing on the highest stage. A second to cherish for a lot of soccer followers.

Ghana

Coach: Otto Addo

Otto Addo has little expertise teaching on the highest stage. He’s an assistant at Borussia Dortmund, the place he was additionally a youth coach and scout for a number of years. It’s due to this fact primarily his expertise as knowledgeable footballer that made him the interim head coach of Ghana in the beginning of 2022. He additionally had his greatest moments as a participant with Dortmund: he notably received the Bundesliga in 2002 With Ghana, he hasn’t managed many matches but, however well knocked out Nigeria within the qualifiers.

The star: Kamaldeen Sulemana

Kamaldeen Sulemana is the brand new hope of the Ghanaian nation. After a wonderful first season at FC Nordsjælland, the quick winger was transferred by Rennes for 9 million euros. This made him the most costly outgoing switch in Denmark’s historical past. In Rennes, he doubled his worth, now estimated at round 20 million, in his first season. Sulemana is a teammate and rival of Jeremy Doku among the many Bretons and appears to be the kind of participant who might fully explode through the event. In Ghana, he performs in a workforce the place there are different fascinating attacking parts, comparable to Mohammad Kudus (Ajax), the skilled Jordan Ayew and the expertise of Roma Felix Afena-Gyan.

Kamaldeen Sulemana, rival of Jeremy Doku in Rennes, appears the kind of participant able to turning into one of many revelations of the World Cup. (Photograph by Thor Wegner/DeFodi Photos through Getty Photos)

Ambitions: cross the first spherical and extra if affinities

Ghana are in a difficult group with Portugal and Uruguay. Nevertheless, the South Koreans seem to be an inexpensive goal for this dynamic workforce. If he may take the measure of one of many huge nations, the qualification will probably be acquired. Considered one of Ghana’s strengths is that they’ll subject a core squad with many gamers taking part in at a good stage. What he lacks is a celebrity, even when many skills will wish to make the most of this World Cup to focus on themselves.

The determine: 109

That is the variety of worldwide matches that the report holder Asamoah Gyan performed for Ghana. This 12 months, he’s absent for the primary time in a very long time. For attentive observers, the title of Asamoah Gyan evokes a tragic second within the historical past of African soccer. Ghana got here near turning into the primary African nation to succeed in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup. In further time towards Uruguay, a penalty was awarded for a handball foul by Luis Suarez. Purple for the Uruguayan and penalty for Ghana. However with the stress of a whole continent on his shoulders, Gyan shot the crossbar. The penalty shootout adopted and Uruguay certified. The Ghanaians will little doubt be eager to get revenge for this traumatic second within the group stage sport towards Uruguay.

Uruguay

Coach: Diego Alonso

Diego Alonso has been in control of Uruguay because the finish of 2021. His biggest achievement as a coach is profitable the CONCACAF Champions League with Mexican membership Pachuca in 2016/17 . As a striker, he performed a number of seasons in La Liga, notably with Valencia and Atlético de Madrid. He then additionally had a number of profitable years within the Mexican first division. With Uruguay, he simply certified for the World Cup, though the opponents weren’t spectacular. La Celeste completed third behind the inevitable Brazilians and Argentinians.

Starring: Darwin Nuñez

Everybody is aware of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Each forwards have been driving defenses loopy for years. Not too long ago, Uruguay added a 3rd high striker to their core. Darwin Nunez had an important season with Benfica final 12 months and was rewarded with a top-notch switch to Liverpool. With Uruguay, the striker has but to duplicate his membership type, but when he breaks free on the World Cup, he has what it takes to turn into a celebrity.

Darwin Nuñez will write the final strains of an Uruguay which can shut the chapter of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. The Liverpool participant will embody the way forward for Celeste within the coming years. (Photograph by Robin Alam/ISI Pictures/Getty Photos)

The ambitions: cross the primary spherical and make the outdated ones shine one final time

Uruguay is the primary World Cup winner in soccer historical past and a rustic with a repute to uphold. She is all the time formidable and has a powerful workforce. The query is whether or not the core is massive sufficient to compete with the most effective. In Group H, Uruguay face a formidable opponent with Portugal, however Ghana and South Korea are inside their attain. A high workforce can nonetheless survive within the Spherical of 16, however Uruguay are definitely not assured of a straightforward win. 1 / 4-final should nonetheless be possible.

The determine: 174,000

That is the variety of spectators current on the Maracanã stadium on July 16, 1950 for the World Cup last between Uruguay and Brazil. After all, there have been principally Brazilians, however they had been all muted by the Uruguayan striker Alcides Ghiggia on the 79e minute. He scored the profitable objective, giving Uruguay a second world title within the coronary heart of Rio. The defeat towards Uruguay stays a tragic second within the historical past of Brazilian soccer and is called the Maracanazo.

South Korea

Coach: Paulo Bento

Portuguese Paul Bento, 53, is a person of expertise. In 2005, he grew to become head coach of Sporting Lisbon after a protracted profession as a defensive midfielder within the Spanish and Portuguese leagues. In 2010, he took cost of the Portuguese nationwide workforce, with which he participated in a EURO and a World Cup. He was finally sacked after Portugal had been eradicated from the group stage of the World Cup in 2014. This era was adopted by spells at Cruzeiro, Olympiacos and Chonqing, China. It put him on the map of Asian soccer and in 2018 he grew to become the coach of South Korea. Beneath his management, the nation reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup (eradicated by Qatar) and certified for the World Cup in a play-off towards Syria

Starring: Heung-min Son

One man stands head and shoulders above the remainder of the South Korean squad and that’s, in fact, Heung Min Son. Within the outdated days, Ji-Sung Park, of Manchester United, was the figurehead of South Korean soccer. As we speak, Son has taken over that function effortlessly. Amongst European soccer followers, he’s higher recognized than all his teammates put collectively. He had his most iconic second for South Korea through the 2018 Asian Video games: the South Koreans needed to win the event to flee obligatory navy service within the nation. Son struggled within the last towards Japan with two assists in further time. It allowed all of the younger footballers of this workforce to pursue their careers.

Heungmin Son will draw the highlight to himself in his South Korean shirt. (Photograph by Patrick Smith – FIFA/FIFA through Getty Photos)

The ambition: to not end final within the group

South Korea are regulars on the World Cup resulting from their dominance in Asia, however the workforce not often goes very far. Aside from Son, there’s not a lot instantly noticeable in regards to the choice that implies issues could be trying up now.

The quantity: 10

South Korea is participating within the World Cup for the tenth consecutive time. We particularly bear in mind their journey in 2002, once they had been hosts. Dutch Guus Hiddink led the Koreans to the semi-finals, turning into the one Asian nation to take action. Korea finally misplaced to Germany and Turkey was too sturdy within the small last. This spectacular fourth place has had the benefit of constructing soccer way more common within the nation.

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