By beating Portugal in their final game of group H, South Korea secured second place and qualified for the round of 16 by edging out Uruguay on goals scored. And the reward for their heroic last-minute triumph against the Portuguese? A round of 16 clash against tournament favourites Brazil.
South Korea will go into Monday night’s game as huge underdogs against the five-time World Cup winners. And their task will be made even more difficult by the news that Brazil’s talisman Neymar is set to return from injury after missing the last two group games with an ankle injury.
When Brazil head coach Tite was asked by the media if Neymar would be fit to play a part, he replied with “yes”, but any decision on whether he starts depends on specific training. “If he’s well, he’ll go out on to the pitch.”
The winners of this tie will face Japan or Croatia in the quarter-finals on Friday 9 December at Education City Stadium.
Monday’s last-16 clash between Brazil and South Korea will be shown live in the UK on ITV and ITVX. TV coverage begins at 6.15pm and the match kicks off at 7pm.
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Brazil boss Tite made nine changes for the final group match against Cameroon. After suffering a 1-0 loss he’s likely to bring back a host of players to the starting XI, including Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Richarlison and Alisson Becker. The big team news for Brazil could be the return of star forward Neymar, who missed the previous two games. This week the Seleção were dealt a double injury blow with striker Gabriel Jesus and defender Alex Telles both ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with right knee injuries.
Hwang hee-Chan scored South Korea’s dramatic winning goal against Portugal and he will hope to have earned a starting spot for the clash against the Brazilians. Defender Kim Min-jae, who has been suffering with a calf issue, was rested for the match against Portugal and should return to the starting XI.
South Korea will “give this a good go”, and they showed against Portugal how “well organised they are at the back”, said Chris Sutton on the BBC. But I don’t think they have “got enough at the other end” to bother Brazil. Prediction: Brazil 2 South Korea 0.