Good afternoon and welcome to Education City Stadium as two-time winners Uruguay get their World Cup campaign underway against South Korea.
After a woeful run of results saw the 15-year managerial reign of Oscar Tabarez come to an end 12 months ago, new boss Diego Alonso has turned things round for Uruguay. Since January, Alonso’s side have won eight of their nine matches, including key away qualifying victories over Chile and Paraguay which propelled them to Qatar.
The likes of Fede Valverde, Luis Suarez, Darwin Nunez and Rodrigo Bentancur headline a squad which is chock full of world-class talent and many expect them to punch well above their weight over the coming weeks.
In terms of this afternoon, Alonso is likely to be without key defensive stalwart Ronald Araujo and will likely need to turn to the experienced Diego Godin alongside Jose Maria Gimenez.
That journey begins now against a South Korean side, who received the best news possible in the build-up to this one when talisman Son Heung-min was declared fit to start.
The Spurs man picked up a nasty eye injury last month but has publicly declared that he is fit to play despite what has been a severely disrupted preparation for the tournament.
While Son offers South Korea a cutting edge, much of their qualifying success was built upon a stingy defensive record where they conceded just three goals in their ten qualifiers. They have caused big upsets at the World Cup before, most notably in 2018 where they upset Germany in the group stages.
That said, since their heroic run to the semi-finals in their home tournament in 2002, South Korea have flattered to deceive somewhat at the World Cup. However, with Son and Napoli defender Kim Min-jae to call upon, this feels like a side ready to make a splash in Qatar.