The knockout stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup continue with a match few would have predicted, as tournament favourites Brazil face off against one of the cup’s great underdog teams, South Korea.
Kicking off at 19:00 GMT from the 974 Stadium, this Round of 16 match is a clear favourite to advance to the Quarterfinals in Brazil. However, if there is one thing that FIFA World Cup 2022 is teaching us, it is to expect the unexpected!
The last round of the Group Stage certainly brought in the drama as half of the teams in the tournament faced elimination.
Amongst those in line for the chopping block was South Korea, a zippy team that had shown glimpses of what it could do, but had not found the results it was hoping for.
After a pale nil-nil draw against Uruguay and coming out agonizingly close in a thrilling 2-3 loss against Ghana, it seemed like South Korea’s World Cup hopes were on a lifeline as they faced off against the group leader Portugal.
Coming into this match already qualified after their victories against Ghana and Uruguay, Portugal could afford to rest a few key players for the next round. However, they were still aiming to get some points out of this match in order to ensure qualifying in the top position, even going as far as to start Cristiano Ronaldo.
And while Portugal started off winning right from the bat thanks to a 5’ goal by newcomer Ricardo Horta, South Korea only took 20 minutes to respond back with a goal of their own after a bizarre error from Cristiano during a corner left by K. Young-gwon with a sitter about a meter away from goal.
While Korea kept trying for a winner, it was looking more and more like a certainty that Uruguay would go through to the next round in 2nd place, leaving Korea doomed to last place with 1 point.
However, Son Heung-min was not ready to accept that fate and, in the 91st minute, gained possession of the ball after a Portuguese corner and made a run all the way to the opposing half by himself. Only one man against the world, he held up play - surrounded by 6 opponents - as he waited for reinforcements to arrive.
Finally, it was Hwang Hee-chan - returning from injury - that would make a run into the area and receive the most perfectly weighted pass from Song to convert a winning goal for the ages, not only beating Portugal but putting them through to face Brazil in the Round of 16.
While Korea were the heroes in their group’s third round drama, Brazil ended up being the victims in theirs.
Much like their Portuguese counterparts, The Seleção arrived in their final game against Cameroon already qualified for the next round.
Tite, the Brazilian coach since 2016, took the opportunity to field his B-side and give an opportunity to players that had not received many minutes, like Gabriel Jesus, Antony and even 39-year-old legend Dani Alves.
Even with their B-side, Brazil managed to control the game and create countless chances throughout the match - although thanks to a great performance from Cameroon goalkeeper Devis Epassy and wasteful finishing from the Brazilian forwards, they were unable to open the tally.
Just when it seemed the match would end in a goalless draw, Aboubakar would manage to get on the end of a fantastic cross to the area and leave Ederson frozen in place, as the ball made its way to the lower right corner of the goal and earning Cameroon a famous win that won’t soon be forgotten.
Not only did this match mark the first time Brazil ever lost to an African side in the World Cup, but it also ended a nine-game winning run for the South American giants.
Korea’s heroic win against Portugal and Brazil’s historic loss against the Indomitable Lions will have plenty of fans dreaming that Korea could pull off a similar upset in this match. While this tournament has provided plenty of surprises, this one, however, might be a bridge too far.
While it is true that Brazil has not really been as dominant as expected during the group stage - going through thanks to slender wins against Serbia and Switzerland - they are still considered by many as the favorites to take home the cup.
With their A-team back - including the confirmed return of the previously injured Neymar - Brazil needs to start showing the world its intentions to win this cup.
While Korea have only ever managed to move past the Round of 16 at their own World Cup in 2002, Brazil have not been knocked out in this stage since losing out to Argentina back in 1990.
While we expect the Koreans to put in a good performance, a Brazil win and over 2.5 at a price of 1.95 at Comeon seems like great value to us.