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Sport Preview: World Cup 2022 - Thurs 24th Nov 2022

World Cup Previews: Thurs 24th Nov

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Portugal vs Ghana: Thurs 24th Nov, 4:00pm

Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview may well have overshadowed Portugal’s preparations for the World Cup, but coach Fernando Santos has been quick to brush the incident underneath the carpet.

He may well be correct, that Ronaldo’s issue is with Manchester United, but the reception some of his team-mates had for the 37-year-old looked frosty.

Any animosity will have to be shelved if Portugal are to repeat their 2016 European Championship glory with a serious tilt in the Middle East.

Santos’ team are unpredictable, though, with impressive wins over Switzerland and the Czech Republic before losing to the former in the Nations League.

They also struggled against Ireland and could not get the better of Serbia, which pushed them into the World Cup play-offs.

Ronaldo remains their kingpin, but his effectiveness is on the wane and with 40-year-old Pepe at the back there are concerns about them in the heat of Qatar.

Of course they have other go-to players such as Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Rafael Leao, but their progress in the knockout stages may be short and sweet.

They should, however, edge out Ghana in their Group H opener on Thursday.

Ghana impressed with a 2-0 warm-up win over a strong Switzerland side on Thursday to give their confidence a lift.

Otto Addo’s men undoubtedly possess talent, but they lack experience and it could go one of two ways.

With no fear, the Black Stars could squeeze through a group which is wide open and includes Uruguay and the Korea Republic. Alternatively they could return home pointless after watching some of their brightest stars freeze.

They finished bottom of their Africa Cup of Nations group, but still qualified for the World Cup via

an away goal from Thomas Partey against Nigeria.

The bookies do not fancy them at Stadium 974, though, and have them as big as 8/1 to produce a shock. That may be beyond them, but with Ajax star Mohammed Kudus and new recruit Inaki Williams in their ranks, they could get on the scoresheet in Doha.

Brazil vs Serbia Thurs 24th Nov, 7:00pm

It is 20 years since Brazil won the World Cup in Japan, and Qatar 2022 looks like being their best chance since then to follow that up.

They have an attack flooded with talent and Neymar and Vinicius Junior will be integral to their chances.

In qualifying Brazil found their rhythm, going unbeaten en route to Qatar, scoring 45 goals and conceding just five. But the Nations League has meant they have not faced European opposition for a long while and that may leave them ring rusty.

Group G is like a rerun of 2018 when Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland were all grouped together.

Four years ago, Brazil drew with Switzerland and saw off Serbia 2-0. This time they face Serbia first up and the 21st-ranked Serbians might well prove tricky to dispose of.

Packed with attacking talent, Serbia had a strong Nations League campaign after waltzing through their World Cup qualifying group, leaving Portugal to advance via the play-offs.

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic can call on plenty of attacking talent and he has a team with a very strong spine.

Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic is dependable at the back, while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has the licence to get forward and support the attacking triumvirate of Dusan Tadic, Dusan Vlahovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

They are not to be taken lightly and if they can come away from Thursday’s game unscathed they will fancy their chances of progression.

It’s a difficult game to analyse, with all three results possible, but it may well pay off to go with the draw.

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