Brazil will look to recover from their shock defeat to Cameroon with a Round of 16 win over South Korea.
Coming on the back of a memorable win against Portugal, the Taegeuk Warriors should be brimming with confidence ahead of their knockout clash with the record-time world champions.
Brazil surrendered their nine-match winning streak on Friday as Vincent Aboubakar struck in the dying embers to hand Cameroon a remarkable but ultimately meaningless win over the Seleção.
Tite chose to rotate the squad heavily ahead of the knockouts, but he managed to field a commendable starting XI on paper.
Brazil crafted a flurry of goal-scoring opportunities but failed to convert them. They had to atone for their misses by falling to their first defeat against an African opposition.
Brazil are still one of the title contenders in Qatar. So, they are expected to make it to the last eight. But even a full-fledged Brazil side could face incredible resistance from South Korea.
South Korea’s World Cup dreams appeared all but over when they lost to Ghana in a thrilling 3-2 affair. But Serbia’s defeat to Switzerland and a late Hwang Hee-chan winner against Portugal handed them the tickets to the Round-of-16.
The Asian side took four points from a possible six in their matches against Uruguay and Portugal. So, even though they will come to the match as underdogs, there’s no reason for South Korea to think that progressing beyond this stage would be mission impossible.
South Korea have only ever managed to progress beyond the last 16 at the World Cup once, reaching the semi-finals of the 2002 edition.
They locked horns with Brazil as recently as June, but that friendly match ended in a comprehensive 5-1 defeat.
Neymar Jr. will return to the Brazil squad for the first time since the opening match against Serbia.
However, Tite has lost both Gabriel Jesus and Alex Telles for the remainder of the tournament after both men sustained knee problems in the clash with Cameroon.
Telles’s withdrawal and Alex Sandro’s hip problem has left Tite short at left-back.
Thankfully, Danilo is making good progress in his recovery from an ankle sprain of his own and could deputise on that side.
Eder Militao is an option to occupy the right flank.
Lee Jae-sung might have to leave his starting position for Friday’s match hero Huang.
South Korea centre-back Kim Min-jae will be available for selection after missing the Portugal match because of a fitness issue.
Playmaker Lee Kang-in and centre-back Kim Young-gwon picked up bruises in the Portugal match and will undergo late assessments before South Korea take on Brazil.
Brazil possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Militao, Marquinhos, Silva, Danilo; Paqueta, Casemiro, Neymar; Raphinha, Richarlison, Vinicius Jr
South Korea possible starting lineup:
Seung-gyu; Moon-hwan, Kyung-won, Young-gwon, Jin-su; In-beom, Woo-young; Hee-chan, Kang-in, Heung-min; Gue-sung
A Son Heung-min-led South Korean attack have enough firepower to cause an injury-ridden Brazil side a world of problems.
But Brazil’s own attacking might should be enough to overcome the South Korean resistance. We predict a 2-1 win for Brazil.
Date: December 6
Kickoff: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Stadium 974.