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Monday at the World Cup: How will Brazil cope without Neymar? Can Heung-Min Son kickstart South Korea charge?

The second round of World Cup group games continues on Monday; Cameroon face Serbia in first match of the day; South Korea vs Ghana (1pm); Brazil take on Switzerland (4pm) and a crunch clash between European giants Portugal and Uruguay (7pm)

Today at the World Cup

Brazil will face Switzerland in the World Cup on Monday without their talisman Neymar, ruled out by an ankle injury suffered in their opening 2-0 win against Serbia on Thursday, but midfielder Casemiro thinks they have a host of young talent to step in for him.

"We could spend several days talking about Neymar, the player he is, his qualities and how important he is for our team. It's unavoidable, he is our biggest player, the difference maker in our team," Casemiro told a news conference on Saturday.

"However, we have other players that have been performing in the same level like Vinicius Jr, Raphinha, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus.

"We, those who play in the back end, often joke that we feel sorry for our rivals because we can replace Raphinha for Antony, Richarlison for Gabriel Jesus. We have Rodrygo, Gabriel Martinelli.

"We have a wide array of options (on the bench). It's great for us. But it does not change the fact that Neymar is our best player."

The World Cup favourites trained behind closed doors at the Al Arabi Stadium ahead of their Group G second game against Switzerland.

Elsewhere on Monday, Cameroon and Serbia both look to secure their first points of the tournament - with the losers eliminated - South Korea take on Ghana while Cristiano Ronaldo is back in action later in the evening with Portugal able to confirm their place in the round of 16 with a win over Uruguay.

Also See:

World Cup fixtures - November 28

  • Cameroon vs Serbia - Group G, kick-off 10am
  • South Korea vs Ghana - Group H, kick-off 1pm
  • Brazil vs Switzerland - Group G, kick-off 4pm
  • Portugal vs Uruguay - Group H, kick-off 7pm

Shaqiri: We've got more experience this time

Breel Embolo displayed a muted celebration after scoring
Image: Breel Embolo displayed a muted celebration after scoring

Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri said on Sunday that Switzerland were going into their World Cup group-stage match against Brazil with more experience and poise than they did when they drew with the Brazilians at the 2018 World Cup.

Monday's Group G match in Qatar will be the third time that Switzerland have played Brazil at the World Cup. The teams last met in the group stage of the 2018 tournament in Russia, where they drew 1-1.

Shaqiri, who has represented Switzerland in four consecutive World Cups, said the Swiss felt capable of getting a better result against Brazil this time.

"That was a positive outcome," Shaqiri said of the 2018 draw. "We are aware of what we can do and I think we have made progress. We have more experience and have been challenged by greater teams since."

Tite: Neymar and Danilo will play again

Tite is optimistic about Neymar's recovery from his injury and that he will have his talisman back in time to help them win a record-extending sixth World Cup title.

"I believe that Neymar and Danilo will play again in the World Cup," said on Sunday.

"Medically, clinically, I have no place to speak. But I do have our doctor's opinion, the sensations talking to the players and seeing how hard they are working day and night to recover.

"I believe we will be able to count on them in the World Cup again."

Switzerland have reached the knockout stage in three of their last four World Cups but crashed out at the group stage in 2010. Brazil, unbeaten in qualifying for Qatar, have won the World Cup five times and are favourites to win a record-extending sixth title.

Murat Yakin, Switzerland's manager, said Neymar's absence from the Brazilian line-up due to an ankle injury had no impact on the Swiss preparation or tactics.

"I think that team has enough excellent players to build three teams," Yakin said of Switzerland's opponents. "The challenge is not going to get easier for us."

Switzerland edged Cameroon 1-0 in their opening match, and a win against Brazil would see them through to the round of 16 if Serbia fail to win against Cameroon on Monday.

Shaqiri said Switzerland could not afford to squander any scoring opportunities if they wanted to have a chance of defeating the mighty Brazilians.

"If you don't get a lot of opportunities, you really need to take advantage of them," he said. "That's what we want to do tomorrow."

South Korea calm ahead of Ghana match

Son Heung-min reacts after a missed opportunity in South Korea's World Cup opener versus Uruguay
Image: Heung-Min Son reacts after a missed opportunity in South Korea's World Cup opener against Uruguay

South Korea head coach Paulo Bento said he is under no pressure for Monday's World Cup Group H match against Ghana, where both teams need a victory after dropping points in the first game.

South Korea played out a gritty 0-0 draw with Uruguay but were poor in the final third and Ghana lost 3-2 to Portugal.

The Koreans are tied with Uruguay on one point, behind Portugal on three. Ghana prop up the standings and another defeat would knock them out of the World Cup.

"I said earlier I do not feel any pressure, I never did and never will," Portuguese Bento told reporters on Sunday.

Did you know?

The German-born Ghanaian coach Otto Addo was in charge of the Under-19s at Hamburg SV when South Korea's Heung-Min Son arrived at the club aged 16 in 2009 and the teenager made a quick impression.

"During the first game, we had a chance of at least ensuring a third-place finish. In the second game, we will keep this opportunity... we will enter the field with a focus on a win.

"I don't feel any pressure whatsoever. I would love the players to feel the way I do, but I know they come from a different culture... We will have a difficult game but we are able to do well."

After a miserable showing at the Cup of Nations this year, when they were dumped out in the group stage with only one point, Ghana are hoping for a better performance in Qatar.

"We have great and utmost respect for a great team in Ghana and the players who compete at a very high level," Bento said of Otto Addo's side.

"For our strategy, we have to try to be ourselves. We are very well aware of the skills and how good Ghana are, this will be a match where in some moments we will have the capacity to control the game.

"They have skilled players from a technical standpoint and they are also very quick in attack. We want to control the game, and also the moments when they are in attack."

The Ronaldo Show wheels back into town

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Manchester United and Brazil midfielder Casemiro sends his best wishes to Cristiano Ronaldo after his departure from Old Trafford

Portugal could qualify early for the next phase of the World Cup with a game remaining if they beat Uruguay on Monday, a task probably much easier said than done.

Uruguay have the World Cup edge in winning the tournament twice, albeit a few generations ago, and are more than familiar with Portugal, having knocked them out of the contest in 2018 in the round of 16.

Although Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show on Thursday, setting a record by scoring in his fifth World Cup in Portugal's 3-2 win over Ghana, his team lacked inspiration and have much to do to shake off a dismal run of World Cup form since reaching the semi-finals in 2006.

Uruguay, while failing to score any goals or even record any shots on target in their opener against a gritty South Korea on Thursday, were composed, organised and like a team capable of another deep World Cup run, with veterans and neophytes combining seamlessly and moving the ball with confidence.

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Gary Neville expects Cristiano Ronaldo's next move to be a 'cameo role' at a top club where he can play Champions League football

All five goals of Portugal's opening game came in a frenetic final 25 minutes likened by coach Fernando Santos to a storm. He said he is untroubled going into the Uruguay match because he knows what needs fixing.

"It's nothing I'm worried about because I know that my players can do better than that, but that's football," he said. "I am totally confident that they can perform much better than this."

Portugal, with a habit of going down to the wire in the World Cup group stages, may want to avoid that this time with a final match against South Korea, the team that ended Germany's title defence in 2018.

Equally, Uruguay will want to avoid defeat against Portugal so their fate can remain in their own hands in their final match against Ghana.

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Sky Sports' Peter Smith and Nick Wright analyse some of their favourite stars to keep an eye out for during the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Their one to watch for day nine is Real Madrid and Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde

Uruguay have looked good since Diego Alonso took over late last year and turned things around in qualifying. He has every player available in his squad, except Barcelona's Ronald Araujo, who is recovering from thigh surgery.

Alonso's defence looked sturdy against South Korea and he is blessed with plenty of attacking options through Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani - despite their age - and Liverpool's Darwin Nunez and Manchester United's Facundo Pellistri, who looked dangerous on their World Cup debuts.

Alonso expects a tough game on Monday and for the group to be decided in the final match.

"Obviously the second game is key as is the third," he said. "Whether we qualify or not depends on us."

Team news

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Michael McCubbin of Euro Football Daily discusses just how important Richarlison and his goals are to Brazil for their World Cup chances

Five-time world champions Brazil could be without midfielder Lucas Paqueta for their next World Cup Group G game against Switzerland.

Brazil were already set to miss their talisman Neymar and reliable full-back Danilo, both ruled out by ankle injuries suffered in their opening 2-0 win over Serbia.

Coach Tite gave no clue about team selection in his news conference on Sunday. But Paqueta was unable to train fully, affecting Tite's plans to compensate for Neymar's absence against the Swiss.

Real Madrid prodigy Rodrygo would be the first option if Tite decides to use the same system with four up-front alongside Vinicius, Richarlison and Raphinha.

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YouTuber James Allcott says that this tournament is 'huge' for Brazilian forward Neymar and suggests the PSG playmaker needs to win the World Cup to better his legacy.

The versatile 21-year-old forward played in Neymar's position in three practice games in Turin before the World Cup.

But the option of pairing Fred with his Manchester United team-mate Casemiro to strengthen the midfield is also very much in play, pushing Paqueta forward into a playmaking role if he recovers in time.

Real Madrid's versatile centre-back Eder Militao is likely to replace Danilo. The 24-year-old played as a full-back in their friendly against Ghana in September and would add the solidity needed to balance the ultra-offensive tactics Tite is deploying.

Another option would be 39-year-old veteran Dani Alves, the only right back available in the squad.

South Korea defender Kim Min-jae is doubtful after suffering a calf injury in the last game, while forward Hwang Hee-chan is unavailable to face Ghana because of a hamstring injury after he was an unused substitute against Uruguay.

Son recently returned from surgery to stabilise a fracture around his eye and played in a black protective mask on Thursday, spearheading the South Korean attack which did not have much impact as they had six attempts at goal but none on target.

Cameroon and Serbia in win-or-go-home scenario

Switzerland's Breel Embolo (left) is challenged by Cameroon's Jean-Charles Castelletto (centre) and Tolo Nouhou during the World Cup Group G match
Image: Switzerland's Breel Embolo (left) is challenged by Cameroon's Jean-Charles Castelletto (centre) and Tolo Nouhou during the World Cup Group G match

Cameroon and Serbia go into Monday's Group G match knowing that anything less than a victory could send them packing from the World Cup by the time Brazil and Switzerland play later in the day.

Serbia are bottom of the group after losing 2-0 to pre-tournament favourites Brazil while Cameroon's 1-0 loss to Switzerland means the African side are still seeking their first victory in the World Cup since 2002.

The match arguably gives both Cameroon and Serbia their best chances of opening their account in Qatar.

But a loss for either team - combined with a draw between Brazil and Switzerland - would prematurely bring the curtains down on their campaign, with nothing to play for but pride in their final group game on December 2.

Vinicius Junior dribbles away from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Image: Serbia lost to Brazil 2-0 in their opener

Although they did give a good account of themselves against the Swiss, coach Rigobert Song has promised improvement.

"The mistakes that were made (against Switzerland) will not be made again in the next game," he said after the opening loss.

On the other hand, Serbia have a well-drilled unit that prevented Brazil from making inroads in the first half before they were carved open in the second following a drop in intensity.

"The impression is that we started the second half with too much respect for the Brazilian national team and that cost us a positive result," Serbia's national team director Stevan Stojanovic said.

"Somehow we raised our hands prematurely in surrender, which in the past was not characteristic of this generation."

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic lamented the fact that his key players such as top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic were not fully fit.

But they will be glad to have got Brazil out of the way nice and early, and he has promised change in the next two games.

"We have to face that fact. It's defeating to not have 100% of all your players... You will see a different team (against Cameroon)," Stojkovic said with a reassuring tone.

Opta stats

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Cameroon vs Serbia

  • This is the first meeting between Cameroon and Serbia in all competitions since a 4-3 friendly win for the Serbs in June 2010.
  • Serbia have lost both of their FIFA World Cup games as an independent nation against African sides, doing so against Côte d'Ivoire in 2006 (2-3) and Ghana in 2010 (0-1).
  • Cameroon have now lost each of their last eight matches at the World Cup, with those defeats coming across four tournaments (2002, 2010, 2014 and 2022). Defeat here would equal the longest ever losing run by a nation at the World Cup, set by Mexico between 1930 and 1958 (9 in a row).
  • Serbia have lost eight of their 10 World Cup games as an independent nation (80%), the highest loss percentage of any side to have played at least 10 games in the competition.

South Korea vs Ghana

  • This is the first meeting between Korea Republic and Ghana since a friendly in June 2014, with Jordan Ayew netting a hat-trick in a 4-0 win for the Black Stars.
  • Korea Republic have scored exactly twice in each of their three FIFA World Cup meetings with African nations, beating Togo 2-1 in 2006, drawing 2-2 with Nigeria in 2010, and losing 4-2 to Algeria in 2014.
  • Following their 2-0 win against Germany in 2018, and their 0-0 draw with Uruguay on MD1 this year, Korea Republic have kept a clean sheet in consecutive World Cup games for the first time. Their previous two shutouts in the competition came over a period of 16 games between 2002 and 2018.
  • Ghana are winless in their last five matches at the World Cup (D2 L3). Defeat here would see them exit in the group stages in consecutive appearances at the competition (also 2014), having reached the knockout rounds in both of their first two (2006 and 2010).

Brazil vs Switzerland

  • Both previous meetings between Brazil and Switzerland at the FIFA World Cup have ended in a draw (2-2 in 1950, 1-1 in 2018). No side have Brazil faced more at the competition without ever winning than the Swiss (also two vs Portugal and Hungary).
  • Switzerland have won two of their last four meetings with Brazil in all competitions (D1 L1), having failed to win any of their first five (D3 L2). The Swiss have scored exactly once in each of their last six against Brazil.
  • Switzerland have won just one of their eight FIFA World Cup games against South American sides (D2 L5), beating Ecuador 2-1 in 2014 in Brasilia.
  • Brazil are unbeaten in their last 16 group stage games at the World Cup - no side has ever gone 17 without defeat in the group stages of the competition before (including final and second group rounds in earlier editions).

Portugal vs Uruguay

  • This is the second FIFA World Cup meeting between Portugal and Uruguay, with the South Americans eliminating Portugal in the second round of the 2018 edition in Russia.
  • Uruguay have won four of their last five FIFA World Cup matches against European nations (including a 2-1 victory over Portugal), though did lose to France in their last such match. The Sky Blue had won just two of their previous 25 such matches before this run (D8 L15).
  • Portugal have won just one of their last nine meetings with South American nations in all competitions (D3 L5), beating Argentina 1-0 in a friendly in November 2014.
  • Following their 3-2 win against Ghana, Portugal are looking to win their opening two group games for the third time at the World Cup. They previously did so in 1966 and 2006, eventually reaching the semi-finals in both of those editions.
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