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World Cup 2022 is now in full swing and we have four more matches to look forward to on Monday.
Brazil return to the field after their winning start last week, while Portugal and Uruguay will lock horns in a vital game for both teams.
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Both Cameroon and Serbia failed to find the back of the net in their first games of the tournament. The Indomitable Lions worked the ball into some promising positions in their 1-0 loss to Switzerland, but a combination of poor decision-making and an erratic end product ultimately let them down.
As for Serbia, they were held at arm’s length by Brazil for much of their match on Thursday. Dragan Stojkovic’s side did not manage a single shot on target against the Selecao, who ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a brace from Richarlison.
Serbia do possess plenty of attacking talent, though, and we like the look of Aleksandar Mitrovic to find the net on Monday. With playmaking duo Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic behind him, the Fulham frontman should get opportunities to score. He is particularly adept in the air, so do not be surprised if Mitrovic scores a header here.
South Korea held their own against Uruguay on Thursday and were slightly unfortunate to only draw 0-0. The Taeguk Warriors looked bright and sharp, while their passing was easy on the eye. However, the lack of a ruthless streak in forward areas meant they were unable to put the Uruguay defense under sustained pressure.
Ghana were more effective going forward against Portugal, although that did not stop them losing 3-2 to Cristiano Ronaldo and co. But with Mohammed Kudus making driving runs through midfield and Inaki Williams offering pace in behind, the Black Stars look well equipped to cause problems for another opposition defense here.
Equally, South Korea will fancy their chances of exploiting a Ghana backline that did not look overly solid against Portugal, especially if Son Heung-min is closer to full fitness on Monday.
Brazil took a while to get going against Serbia, perhaps because of opening-game nerves. In the end they proved too strong for Dragan Stojkovic’s side, with Richarlison finding the net twice in the second half. The only negative was an injury to Neymar, which looks set to rule the Selecao talisman out for the rest of the group stage.
That is undoubtedly a blow, but Neymar was not at his best last time out and Brazil still got the job done relatively comfortably. Tite has a squad with tremendous strength in depth, with Premier League-based trio Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli and Antony all appearing off the bench against Serbia.
Switzerland are a solid side but Brazil’s attack could overwhelm them. Consider backing Tite’s men to score either side of half-time.
Portugal got off to a winning start on matchday one, but they did not have everything their own way against Ghana. Two quick-fire goals turned a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead, but Fernando Santos’ side were made to sweat in the closing stages after their opponents pulled one back.
The result is king on matchday one, though, and Portugal are under less pressure than Uruguay thanks to their victory last time out. The South Americans delivered a flat performance against South Korea, who looked brighter and sharper in a 0-0 draw. Uruguay cannot really afford to lose this encounter, so they will have to show more attacking intent against Portugal.
That could lead to a scenario where Uruguay are chasing the game late on, while Santos’ side possess plenty of counter-attacking speed which is perfect for those situations. A late goal could be on the cards in this one.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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