Brazil’s quest for a record-extending sixth World Cup crown continues on Monday against South Korea, with this last-16 tie starting at 7.00 pm.
Widely considered the top candidates to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in Qatar, Tite’s men conquered Group G, thanks to a pair of wins ‘to nil’ over Serbia and Switzerland.
Not even Cameroon’s shock 1-0 victory over the second-string Selecao side on day three prevented the tournament favourites from topping their World Cup group for the 11th campaign on the trot.
Maybe being knocked down from a record-breaking 17-game unbeaten streak in the competition’s group stages can help Brazil remain focused and not allow complacency to infiltrate itself into the squad.
Tite’s team would be well advised to take this fixture seriously, as South Korea’s last-gasp 2-1 triumph over Portugal on matchday three showed they are no pushovers.
Everything seemed lost for the Taegeuk Warriors after they lost 3-2 at the hands of Ghana in round two, especially since a tepid 0-0 draw with Uruguay in their Group H curtain-raiser massively favoured La Celeste.
But Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Hwang Hee-chan stepped up to the plate in stoppage time to upset Group H winners Portugal and send Uruguay packing.
Another mammoth assignment awaits Paulo Bento’s team as FIFA’s #1 ranked nation will put their world football credentials at Stadium 974.
Tite was the main culprit for Brazil’s first defeat in the World Cup group stages in the new millennium, but his decision to make nine changes to his starting XI may pay off in the knockout stage.
With Neymar’s availability for this fixture still up in the air, the Selecao’s bid to inspire more first-half action will likely rest with Vinicius Junior and Richarlison.
The Brazilians failed to get on the scoresheet before half-time in all three group-stage outings in Qatar, which spreading to ‘Russia 2018’ makes it an unwanted joint record of five straight World Cup games without a first-half goal.
South Korea’s first foray into the World Cup knockout phase since 2010 and their third overall comes courtesy of their impressive second-half performances.
The Koreans’ four goals in Qatar have been scored beyond half-time, which is in line with their habit of putting their foot on the gas in the later stages of play, seeing 11 of their last 12 World Cup goals come in the second half.
Tottenham Hotspur talisman Heung-min Son has yet to score in Qatar, but his match-winning assist to Hwang last time out could put some wind into his sails for this mouth-watering tie.
Brazil vs South Korea Head-to-Head
Both teams fielded their best line-ups in a friendly six months ago as Brazil thumped South Korea 5-1, indicating what could be in store come Monday.
That victory forms part of Selecao’s eye-catching H2H record against the Koreans (W6, L1), although this will be their first-ever competitive meeting.
Brazil vs South Korea Potential Line-ups
Brazil (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Eder Militao, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Danilo; Fred, Casemiro; Raphinha, Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior; Richarlison.
South Korea (4-3-3): Kim Seung-gyu; Kim Moon-hwan, Kwon Kyung-wan, Kim Min-jae, Kim Jin-su; Hwang In-beom, Jung Woo-young, Lee Kang-in; Lee Jae-sung, Cho Gue-sung, Son Heung-min.
Brazil vs South Korea Prediction
It’s hard to see Brazil beat South Korea as emphatically as they did in June, especially given their woeful three-goal tally in Qatar.
But we still expect Tite’s men to capture a victory, perhaps without conceding.
Brazil 1-0 South Korea
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