How qualified – Won UEFA play-off
Best performance – 3rd 1966
Goalkeepers: Diogo Costa, Jose Sa, Rui Patricio
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Joao Cancelo, Danilo Pereira, Pepe, Ruben Dias, Antonio Silva, Nuno Mendes, Raphael Guerreiro
Midfielders: Joao Palhinha, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Mario, Matheus Nunes, Vitinha, William Carvalho, Otavio
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Ricardo Horta, Goncalo Ramos, Andre Silva
How qualified – Won CAF play-off
Best performance – QFs 2010
Goalkeepers: Lawrence Ati, Danlad Ibrahim, Manaf Nurudeen
Defenders: Joseph Aidoo, Daniel Amartey, Baba Rahman, Alexander Djiku, Tariq Lamptey, Gideon Mensah, Denis Odoi, Mohammed Salisu, Alidu Seidu
Midfielders: Andre Ayew, Mohammed Kudus, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Elisha Owusu, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed
Forwards: Daniel Afriyie, Jordan Ayew, Osman Bukari, Issahaku Abdul Fatawu, Antoine Semenyo, Kamal Sowah, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Inaki Williams
How qualified – 3rd in COMNEBOL
Best performance – Winners 1930 1950
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Sergio Rochet, Sebastian Sosa
Defenders: Ronald Araujo, Sebastian Coates, Martin Caceres, Guillermo Varela, Matias Vina, Mathias Olivera, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Jose Luis Rodríguez
Midfielders: Lucas Torreira, Matias Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur, Manuel Ugarte, Giorgian de Arrascaeta, Nicolas de la Cruz, Federico Valverde , Facundo Pellistri, Agustin Canobbio, Facundo Torres
Forwards: Luis Suarez, Darwin Nunez, Maximiliano Gomez, Edinson Cavani
How qualified – 2nd in AFC Group A
Best performance – 4th 2002
Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-Gyu, Jo Hyeon-Woo, Song Bum-Keun
Defenders: Kim Min-Jae, Kim Young-Gwon, Kwon Kyung-Won, Cho Yu-Min, Kim Moon-Hwan, Yoon Jong-Gyu, Kim Tae-Hwan, Kim Jin-Su, Hong Chul
Midfielders: Jung Woo-Young, Son Jun-Ho, Paik Seung-Ho, Hwang In-Beom, Lee Jae-Sung, Kwon Chang-Hoon, Jeong Woo-Yeong, Lee Kang-In, Son Heung-Min, Hwang Hee-Chan, Na Sang-Ho, Song Min-Kyu
Forwards: Hwang Ui-Jo, Cho Gue-Sung
Thursday 24 November
Uruguay vs South Korea – 1pm – BBC
Portugal vs Ghana – 4pm – ITV
Monday 28 November
South Korea vs Ghana – 1pm – BBC
Portugal vs Uruguay – 7pm – ITV
Friday 2 December
Ghana vs Uruguay – 4pm – BBC
South Korea vs Portugal – 4pm – BBC
The former European champions Portugal headline the last group of the tournament. Much has been made of it potentially being the last chance for Lionel Messi to win this competition but the same could well be said of his rival Cristiano Ronaldo and with all that has gone on with him and Manchester United in the last week you would imagine he will be extra motivated to go deep in this tournament. Uruguay were fourth in this competition 12 years ago where they mugged off Ghana in the quarter final with that infamous Luis Suarez handball and the pair will reunite in this group as the African side are also in it. South Korea might end up going under the radar in this group with the attention elsewhere but they dumped Germany out in Russia four years ago and could be dangerous.
Portugal had to go through the play-off route to qualify for this tournament and in my eyes that is a negative. I suspect the Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United fallout is having an impact on the camp too because they are all getting asked about it. It might motivate him to perform but whether it helps his teammates is another thing entirely so I’m happy to take them on. I’d have given South Korea every chance here if Son-heung Min was definitely fit but there are doubts there.
I want nothing to do with Ghana in this tournament so that leaves Uruguay who at 2/1 in what I expect to be a two horse race looks a fair price. Only Brazil and Argentina finished above Uruguay in South American qualifying and the emergence of Darwin Nunez over recent times has taken the pressure off of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. This Uruguay side isn’t getting any younger but you can say the same about Portugal and so recent form tips the balance in Uruguay’s favour for me.
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There are just too many question marks about the four teams in this group for me to take a solid punt on any of them. I guess the obvious bet is for Cristiano Ronaldo to be the top Portugal scorer given his newly added motivation but he hasn’t been playing regularly and you wonder what he has got. Son-heung Min would be an option for South Korea but although he is expected to be fit there is no guarantee about it.
I want to take on the aging pair at the top of the pitch for Uruguay but there is something that tells me that they are still going to get used more than maybe they should do so there isn’t really a way in there. I also can’t decide whether this is going to be a high scoring group or a low scoring one. There are some good defenders on show but they are largely getting on a bit. Nothing really stands out so I’ll stick with Uruguay to win the group.
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