Here are four things to look out for on the fifth day of the tournament in Qatar as Cristiano Ronaldo makes his first appearance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup when Portugal face Ghana in Group H on Thursday.
1. Ronaldo’s point to prove
Cristiano Ronaldo will not be lacking motivation when Portugal confront Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha.
The fixture comes just two days after Manchester United announced it had severed ties with Ronaldo in the wake of an explosive TV interview in which he heavily criticized the club and manager Erik ten Hag.
At 37, Ronaldo will be determined to prove that he is not yet a spent force in what will surely be his last World Cup.
Standing in his – and Portugal’s – way on Thursday will be a Ghana outfit keen to continue a recent run of impressive form, which has included victories over Chile and Switzerland.
2. Neymar’s Brazil
Brazil will begin their Qatar 2022 campaign against Serbia with their confidence soaring. Tite’s men finished top of the South American qualifying group with 14 wins, three draws and not a single defeat.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar continues to be a talismanic figure, though Brazil will not be as reliant on their No. 10 as in previous years. This is due to an abundance of attacking talent that also includes Tottenham’s Richarlison, Barcelona’s Raphinha and Real Madrid pair Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Serbia will be no pushovers for the South American giants, having gone undefeated in qualifying and finishing top of their group. Dragan Stojkovic’s side looks particularly strong in attack, led by the prolific Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic.
3. Dangerous Switzerland
Switzerland, another team to impress in qualifying, will make their Qatar 2022 debut against Cameroon at Al-Janoub Stadium.
The Swiss are a well-oiled machine under manager Murat Yakin, having beaten Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic in their last three competitive fixtures.
Vital to their hopes in this tournament will be the form of Granit Xhaka. The Arsenal midfielder has had a superb start to the season for Arsenal and is one of the most experienced members of Murat Yakin’s squad, despite having only turned 30 in September.
4. Son Heung-min’s return
Son Heung-min will be playing his first match since fracturing his left eye socket on November 2 when South Korea meet Uruguay in Group H. The Tottenham forward will wear a protective mask and manager Paulo Bento admitted there were “risks” involved with his return.
The Asian outfit face a Uruguay team that finished third in South America’s grueling 10-team qualifying tournament, behind only Brazil and Argentina.
Uruguay manager Diego Alonso is spoiled for choice in attack with veterans Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez joined by Darwin Nunez, who is enjoying a prolific first season at Liverpool.- Advertisement -