World Cup: Group H preview and best bets

By Nigel Seeley  (VSiN.com) 

November 17, 2022 02:25 AM
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The 2022 World Cup is finally here, and VSiN's soccer handicapper Nigel Seeley has picks, predictions and best bets for every group as part of the VSiN World Cup Guide.

Here is his Group H preview for Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana and South Korea:

Odds to win Group H

Portugal -145

Uruguay +185

Ghana 10-1

South Korea 12-1

Portugal

I really like the look of Portugal of 16-1 to win this World Cup. So much so that the Portuguese are my second pick behind Argentina to triumph in Qatar.

This will be Ronaldo’s last major tournament, and I am expecting him to arrive fit and motivated after not playing often for Manchester United this season.

The 2016 European Championship winners have their strongest squad for many years, including a heavy Manchester City influence. The winning habits they learn there can only help their national side. The City stars are Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, all of whom will play a major role. Portugal will be without Liverpool’s Diogo Jota, which is a blow. But the Portuguese have so much young talent coming through, and this is a squad for the present as well as the future. They have the options and overall strength to still challenge despite Jota’s absence.

Key Players

Cristiano Ronaldo

The superstar known as CR7 is the man who has won everything possible except one thing, the World Cup. At 37, this is not only his last chance, but I firmly believe it is his best chance of finally getting his hands on the famous trophy.

He will come in fresh after being dropped by Manchester United throughout the season.  With a mind-blowing world record of 117 goals in 191 games for Portugal, he would like nothing more than to win this and break even more records on the biggest stage of all.

Joao Cancelo

Under the masterful guidance of Pep Guardiola at Man City, Cancelo has made himself the best fullback in the world. He brings the option of being able to play both left and right back for club and country. Cancelo is an incredible assist maker and a nice pick in that prop market. If not being the best fullback in the world is enough, he also has an eye for goals, which makes him the complete footballer. He looks set to have a huge World Cup.

Prediction

This is the best Portuguese squad for a generation, and it might help that all the pressure is not on Ronaldo. So often, Ronaldo has had to carry this nation on his shoulders, but not this time. I like Portugal’s chances in Qatar, and I believe the team will start fast and justify its favored status in the group.

Ghana

As I have mentioned in these group previews, I feel that African soccer has gone backward quickly. That view is highlighted by Ghana being ranked 61st heading into this World Cup on the FIFA rankings.

Ghana comes to Qatar after an embarrassing Africa Cup of Nations campaign during which it failed to win a match. If the Ghanaians are to produce anything at this tournament, they need to turn the form book on its head, and I am not sure this poor team is capable of that.

Key Player

Thomas Partey

After years of injury problems, we are seeing the real Partey this season as he has been a revelation for Arsenal at the Emirates. He has partnered with Granit Xhaka effectively in that midfield.

Partey is by far the best player on this Ghanaian side as well as the most experienced and influential. The problem for him and Ghana in general is the rest of the squad is not up to the standard to be competitive at this World Cup.

Prediction

Ghana will be eliminated in the group stages — of that, I have no doubt. I would expect them to finish at the bottom of Group H. The African domination of the World Cup, which was predicted not too long ago, has simply not materialized.

South Korea

South Korea has proven World Cup credentials and travel to the Middle East in good form with just one one defeat in its last eight matches.

This is a tough group for South Korea, which was eliminated in the group stage in 2018. I expect that to be the case again at this World Cup. The South Koreans cannot be completely overlooked to pull off a shock as they showed by beating Germany 2-0 in the final group match in Russia in 2018. No team will take South Korea lightly.

Key Player

Son Heung-min

Son is the pin-up boy of Asian football and, although he isn’t having the best of seasons at Tottenham, he comes into this tournament as last season’s EPL joint top goal scorer. At 30, he knows this could be his last World Cup.

His goals will give South Korea an edge over Ghana, but South Korea will need more than the Tottenham star if it is to progress to the knockout stage.

Prediction

I believe South Korea will miss out on qualification by finishing third. Son’s goal threat should give it an edge over Ghana, but I can’t see the South Koreans hurting either Portugal or Uruguay. They simply don’t have the firepower to trouble the likely top two.

Uruguay

The South Americans currently sit in 14th place in the FIFA rankings and head into the World Cup in a confident mood. There is no doubt they are an improving nation with players such as Federico Valverde and Ronald Araujo. This Uruguay team goes in as second favorite at +180 in Group H, which is a fair assessment. The team finished in the last eight of the last two Copa Americas and is always a difficult side to beat. I do not expect that to change at this tournament.

Key Players

Federico Valverde

The Real Madrid central midfielder/winger has six goals and two assists and has undoubtedly been Real Madrid’s best player this season. At 6 feet, he is a commanding but skillful presence in the Uruguay midfield and is expected to be a star in Qatar.

Learning from players such as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos at Real Madrid, Valverde is playing the best of his career. At 24 in the peak of his fitness with a mid-season World Cup, he should be a key figure for his nation.

Prediction

Yet again, the bookies have the group betting bang on the money. I believe that a strong Uruguay side will make it out of the group in second place behind Portugal. When the Uruguayans do make the last 16, they will improve and nobody will want to run into the two-time winner.

Group H best bets

Uruguay to finish second (+150)

Ghana to finish bottom (+110)

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