World Cup Group H preview

We’re just four days away from the start of the 2022 World Cup! Today, we’re concluding our preview series with a look at Group H. Remember, if you haven’t yet, join our World Cup predictor challenge at Fotmob.

World Cup Previews

GROUP A | GROUP B | GROUP C | GROUP D | GROUP E | GROUP F | GROUP G


Ghana 🇬🇭 (FIFA Ranking: 61)

How they got here

By sneaking into the World Cup in an underwhelming campaign.

The Black Stars won their group, taking 13 points from six matches against South Africa, Ethiopia and Malawi – hardly an intimidating triumvirate. Ghana snuck by Nigeria in the third round. They drew 0-0 at home and 1-1 on the road, qualifying for Qatar on away goals.

The outlook

Ghana are the lowest-ranked team in Qatar. Their coach isn’t even a full-time manager; Otto Addo was brought in in January and still works as a scout for Borussia Dortmund. This team lacks an identity, and Addo’s constant need to change his lineup has eliminated consistency from his players.

They’ve been bolstered by a slough of dual-nationals committing to Ghana, including players like Tariq Lamptey of Brighton and Iñaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao. But this isn’t the same Ghana side that made waves in 2006 or 2010. They haven’t had a consistent goalscorer for years. Jordan and André Ayew should be the go-to men on paper, but they’ve scored just twice in 2022. 

Arsenal’s Thomas Partey should be the start of this show, but he has yet to define a clear role in this squad, shifting positions in a run of ineffectual games. This Ghana side struggled to create an identity through qualifying, and they’re heading to Qatar with low expectations.

Key players

Thomas Partey (Arsenal), Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Daniel Amartey (Leicester City), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)

Lawrence Ati-Zigi; Baba Rahman, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Tariq Lamptey; Thomas Partey, Elisha Owusu; Jordan Ayew, Mohammed Kudus, André Ayew; Iñaki Williams  

Predicted group finish

4th.

This is a down cycle for Ghana. They have some exciting young talent coming through the ranks, but they don’t seem ready to make a major impact in 2022. Maybe in four years.

Odds to win World Cup:

+25000


Portugal 🇵🇹 (FIFA Ranking: 9)

How they got here

Qualifying wasn’t straightforward for Portugal. After finishing in second place behind Serbia in UEFA Group A, they beat Turkey and North Macedonia in the playoffs to advance to their eighth World Cup appearance.

The outlook

A Seleção have undergone significant change in the last five years. The prior generation of elite talent is mostly gone, and in its place is a new wave of exciting young talent. Rafael Leão, João Félix and Nuno Mendes have joined a group of in-prime talent, while Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Rui Patrício have maintained their core roles in this squad.

This is the fifth final and likely final run for Cristiano Ronaldo, and despite Portugal’s success at the Euros with him, they haven’t gone farther than the Round of 16 since 2006. This is arguably the best Portugal squad since their 2006 run to the semifinals, though, with world class talent at every position.

Head coach Fernando Santos isn’t so much defensive as he is conservative, and his approach to matches held this team back in qualifying. If he can get out of his players’ way and loosen the reigns a bit, this squad has the players to be make a deep run.

Ronaldo, though, has arguably become more of a problem than an asset. His off-the-field antics for Manchester United have demoted him to a sporadic member of the team, and after his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan, he’s heading to Qatar as a distraction. The kind of distraction that can derail an entire tournament.

Key players

Rafael Leão (AC Milan), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Rúben Dias (Manchester City)

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)

Diogo Costa; Raphaël Guerreiro, Rúben Dias, Danilo Pereira, João Cancelo; William Carvalho, Rúben Neves; Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leão, Cristiano Ronaldo

Predicted group finish

3rd.

This side should be really, really good on paper, but they have rarely played up to their potential. Against a good Uruguay team and an underrated South Korea, burdened by Cristiano Ronaldo’s drama, they could crash and burn spectacularly.

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+1400 


South Korea 🇰🇷 (FIFA Ranking: 28)

How they got here

By sticking to their system.

South Korea are one of the most well-drilled and organized sides at the World Cup. They have a philosophy and they stick to it, no matter what. In qualifying, they won Group H in the second round with 16 points from six games, and finished the third round behind only Iran to qualify for Qatar.

The outlook

Manager Paulo Bento has his side set up in a 4-2-3-1, and they’re committed to playing with the ball. They typically dominate possession, but they can be so methodical that at times it’s detrimental, sticking to their patterns of play so much that they don’t leave room for improvisation.

It’s ironic, given that in Son Heung-min they have an elite dribbler of the ball. The Tottenham man fractured his eye socket just weeks before Qatar, but he’ll play through it and could be one of the more exciting players at the tournament.

Aside from Son, though, there’s a lot of emerging talent in this side. Center back Kim Min-jae has been spectacular for Napoli this season, winning the Serie A player of the month award in September and prompting speculation of a move to a bigger team in January. Paired with veteran Kim Young-gwon, the Taegeuk Warriors are a formidable defensive unit.

They’ve qualified for 10-straight World Cups. They’re not just happy to participate, they’re coming to Qatar with a real shot at advancing from the group. And once they’re out of the group, they’re quietly set up to be dangerous in a single elimination match.

Key players

Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Kim Min-jae (Napoli), Kim Young-gwon (Ulsan Hyundai), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)

Kim Seung-gyu; Kim Moon-hwan, Kim Min-jae, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su; Jung Woo-young, Hwang In-beom; Hwang Hee-chan, Son Heung-min, Lee Jae-sung; Hwang Ui-jo

Predicted group finish

2nd.

Korea are incredibly difficult to break down, can wear you out with possession, and are lethal on the counter. It’s hard not to look at them as a sneaky good tournament team, and they’ll catch plenty of people by surprise. 

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+25000


Uruguay 🇺🇾 (FIFA Ranking: 14)

How they got here

By settling into a pragmatic identity and taking care of business in CONMEBOL.

Uruguay finished third in South American qualifying, behind Brazil and Argentina and two points ahead of Ecuador. They finished with an even goal difference, as a bit of defensive frailty inhibited a talented attack.

The outlook

Since hiring manager Diego Alonso (formerly of Inter Miami glory), La Celeste have lost just once, falling 1-0 to Iran in a friendly. They’ve gone 7-1-1, including four straight wins in qualifying.

Alonso has settled into a no-nonsense 4-2-2-2, letting his front pairing of Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani lead the line. Uruguay aren’t pretending to reinvent the wheel. They stay narrow, defend compactly, and get the ball forward quickly. 

The core of this team has played together for over a decade. Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera, Diego Godin and Martín Cáceres are all 35 or older. They’ve been the heartbeat of this side for the last three World Cups, but are well aware that this is their last shot to make an impact.

Key players

Luis Suárez (Nacional), Edinson Cavani (Valencia), Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham), Diego Godín (Vélez Sarsfield)

Predicted XI (4-2-2-2)

Fernando Muslera; Matías Viña, Diego Godín, Ronald Araújo, Martín Cáceres; Rodrigo Bentancur, Matías Vecino; Giorgian de Arrasceata, Darwin Núñez; Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani

Predicted group finish

1st.

If anyone can take advantage of Portugal’s self-implosion, it’s a veteran Uruguay team who have mastered the dark arts. They’re ruthless, and while they aren’t a complete enough team to challenge for the trophy, they’re more than capable of winning Group H.

Odds to win World Cup (via BetMGM)

+4000


Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids.

Leave a Reply