South Korea vs Portugal Odds, Pick, Prediction | World Cup Match Preview

South Korea vs Portugal Odds, Pick, Prediction | World Cup Match Preview article feature image

DeFodi Images/Getty. Pictured: The South Korean team celebrates a goal at the World Cup.

  • South Korea will square off with Portugal in the World Cup.
  • It's a massive fixture for the former, while less so for the latter.
  • Where does the betting value lie? Anthony Dabbundo breaks it down.

South Korea vs. Portugal Odds

Friday, Dec. 2
10 a.m. ET
South Korea Odds+340
Portugal Odds-130
Over/Under2.5 (-110 / -110)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(-110 / -110)
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.

The group stage of the 2022 World Cup concludes on Friday with matches in Group G and Group H.

Portugal have already clinched their spot in the knockout stage with consecutive wins against Ghana and Uruguay to begin group play. They need just a draw or win to officially clinch first in the group and avoid Brazil, but even a loss would see Portugal as the likely winners of this group barring a Ghana upset.

South Korea finds themselves in a precarious position, as they need to beat Portugal to have any chance of advancing to the next round. They'd also need either a Ghana draw or a Uruguay win against Ghana by a small enough margin that Korea could maintain the tiebreak over Uruguay.

There was a stark contrast between Korea's two matches at the World Cup. After a snoozefest with Uruguay that finished goalless and without a shot on target, South Korea played one of the most thrilling matches of the tournament in a 3-2 defeat to Ghana.

They rallied from 2-0 down to tie the match in the second half before losing, but the attack showed key signs of life ahead of this must-win game. They'll need to replicate the two goals and 1.8 xG from that match to have any chance of advancing.

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South Korea Facing Toughest Test Yet

South Korea completed 15 crosses into the penalty area in their match against Ghana and had little to no problems moving the ball into the penalty area against them either. The first 15 minutes of the match featured corner after corner and cross after cross, with the Ghanaians struggling to get out of their own half.

Portugal are more of a possession-dominant team than Ghana, even if they do rotate a bit, so South Korea won't get that kind of consistent penalty area access again. However, the motivational edge is clearly on the side of South Korea.

Tunisia showed against a heavily rotated France side on Wednesday that an underdog team can win the second balls and 50-50s enough to tilt the field against one of the tournament favorites.

South Korea had stellar defensive numbers during their qualifying campaign as well, posting the best of any team in the Asian World Cup Qualifying swing.

Ghana undid them on a set piece early in the match and on a cross from deep, but the Korean defense largely kept Ghana from consistent final third possession and didn't allow that many box entries.

That match had more to do with an extremely efficient Ghana attack on the day than a Korean defensive structure issue.

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Portugal Fortunate to be in Current Position

Portugal's defense has been riding its luck throughout the entire tournament and it's only a matter of time before the unit gets exposed and starts conceding more goals.

Look no further than the match against Uruguay, when the South American side missed a huge scoring chance through Rodrigo Bentancur and then Portugal were unable to cope with the pressure Uruguay applied for the final 30 minutes. Uruguay missed multiple excellent chances, hit the post and amassed 1.5 xGA.

The defense was outside of the top 10 in xG allowed during UEFA World Cup Qualifying too. So, the defense is not a new problem for Portugal. The two fullbacks — Joao Cancelo and Raphael Guerriero — are much better going forward than they are at preventing crosses from coming into the box.

South Korea are sure to attack via the cross on Friday and there could be a rotated Portuguese backline to face them.

Ghana also managed to score twice on this Portugal side too, and it wasn't until the game became extremely stretched in transition that Portugal's attacking talent really expressed itself and created a bunch of great scoring chances.

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South Korea vs. Portugal Pick

Portugal opened as a -180 moneyline favorite on the three-way market. That's been bet down heavily since Monday and that seems to suggest squad rotation is in store for Portugal. France were in a similar position and rotated heavily, and that line moved from -230 down to -150 at the close.

In club situations, I like to play against the team that is chasing the result because the market overreacts. But in an international setting, preservation of health and avoiding yellow cards will be the only key for Fernando Santos' side.

South Korea should be able to get at least a draw here and given the high variance nature of the match, a moneyline sprinkle is worth a look as well.

The Pick: South Korea +0.5 (+100 or better) | South Korea ML (+320 or better)

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