There appear to be three sorts of matches on this World Cup. There are matches the place the stronger group beats the weaker group (Spain, England, France). There are clashes, during which the stronger group is defeated by a barely better-than-expected opponent (Saudi Arabia, Japan), and there are tied video games during which not a lot occurs (the others). With only one shot on the right track (plus two that hit the put up), it was proper within the third class.

    The temptation is to provide you with a grand, tenuous idea as to why it needs to be. There’s hardly any knowledge however, nonetheless, let’s indulge. May or not it’s that the three kinds of sport are the results of a scarcity of preparation time, 4 weeks compressed into 4 days? Some groups, having performed in continental competitors final yr and cozy with the best way they intend to play, are nonetheless within the rhythm of their home seasons and subsequently instantly hit their stride.

    Others might need had extra time to tweak, to attempt to generate one thing that got here near the cohesive kinds that now predominate at membership degree. Conscious of their flaws, they naturally develop into extra danger averse, defensive buildings being a lot simpler to assemble than attacking methods that may overcome them, and the result’s heaviness. And it was extraordinarily heavy – or, as South Korean coach Paulo Bento put it, “a really aggressive match with a really excessive degree of play between two groups that revered one another”.

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    One of many nicest issues about World Cups is assembly previous buddies. That normally means journalists or Belgium, however Uruguay has a pleasing array of acquainted faces, so watching them is like throwing a random mid-afternoon snooker event and discovering Jimmy White is up towards at all times John Higgins. There was Luis Suárez, brawling up entrance, a powerful irritant – although, given he solely managed 14 touches, maybe neither as magnificent nor as irritating as earlier than. There, popping out of the bench, the flared cheekbones of Edinson Cavani. And there, on the coronary heart of the defence, gnarled, relentless, half as previous because the world, was Diego Godín. He even headed into the bottom of the put up three minutes earlier than half-time for the great previous days.

    Matías Viña's attempts to score against Kim Seung-gyu
    Matías Viña’s athletic try to attain fails towards South Korean Kim Seung-gyu. {Photograph}: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

    There was additionally Martín Cáceres who was at all times fidgeting along with his man-bun. Of Uruguay’s 4 defenders, he had probably the most work to do, with Na Sang-ho arguably South Korea’s largest menace. It was on a low cross from the FC Seoul striker that Hwang Ui-jo fired over after 34 minutes. Proper-back Kim Moon-hwan fell to his knees in despair, which, given there was a minimum of an hour to play, appeared like an overreaction – however maybe he knew how little there could be. odds.

    And Uruguay performs in a pleasantly unchanging manner. Soccer can at all times develop. We are able to now reside in a world of excessive strains and low blocks, half-spaces and transitions. However Uruguay, regardless of all of the discuss of revolution provoked by former coach Óscar Tabárez, stay steadfast, at all times in protection – even when there was a barely harrowing second firstly of the second half as Rodrigo Bentancur, a product of Tabárez’s holistic strategy to youth growth, carried out a figure-eight pirouette to get the ball out of bother simply exterior his personal field.

    Generally it is stunning, like when José María Giménez dispossessed Son Heung-min with a scrumptious sliding deal with 5 minutes after the beginning of the second half. However principally, it is just a bit irritating: why, after they have such expertise, are they seemingly so reluctant to make use of it?

    “We needed to match their degree of aggression,” Bento stated. “We managed to try this within the first half.” Within the Asian Cup in 2019, the criticism of South Korea was that they dominated the ball and did not do a lot with it. The primary half appeared to observe this sample, however Uruguay step by step started to claim themselves as the sport progressed. “We could not put stress on Korea and misplaced precision,” stated Uruguay coach Diego Alonso. “We needed to change at half-time and had been in a position to defend increased.”

    However they did not assert themselves sufficient to win the sport, or actually create an enormous menace, a minimum of till Federico Valverde hit a 25-yarder towards the put up within the 89th minute. Avoiding defeat is maybe crucial factor within the opening sport of the group, nevertheless it was a sport during which each groups would have fortunately shaken palms over a half-time draw.

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