Korea missed an opportunity to move into first in Group A, drawing Iran 1-1, while the UAE have three points after four games played, scoring in injury time to pick up a point against Iraq in a 2-2 draw.
While their matches have been much closer, the Koreans have come away with two wins and two draws to start this qualifying phase.
Statistically, they dominated their opening three matches of round three, with over 70% possession in each of those encounters, winning twice and drawing 0-0 with Iraq in their opener.
This team have not missed the World Cup since 1982, finishing second to Iran in qualifying for the 2014 and 2018 finals.
A 3-0 defeat to Japan in a friendly earlier this year seemed to wake this team up, as they went on to win their next three second-round qualifiers by a combined score of 12-1.
Paulo Bento brings a wealth of experience internationally to this team, making the semi-finals of the Euro in 2000 as a player and helping Portugal to the semi's in 2012 and leading them to a World Cup appearance two years later.
The Koreans have not scored as much in this round of qualification, but they have done a terrific job when it comes to winning those battles in between the lines, as they have an underrated group of midfielders who can read the game effectively.
It has been a long wait for the UAE to make their presence known on the world stage of football's biggest tournament once again, and this may be their best opportunity in quite some time to qualify for a World Cup.
After being initially sacked by the UAE Football Association in 2019, Bert Van Marwijk returned a year later, and his second time around has been a lot more positive, with only one defeat in his 11 matches in charge since December 2020.
The Dutchman, who guided the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 2010, has seen his side fight hard in their four matches this round, but they have failed to keep their composure late in games, conceding twice to Iraq in the second half last month and giving up a goal to Iran in their previous encounter with only 20 minutes remaining.
Before their defeat to Iran in October, this team had been in fine form throughout 2021, going unbeaten in nine straight games.
The only time that they have ever made the finals of a World Cup was in 1990 in Italy when they lost all three of their group matches, scoring only twice while conceding 11 times.
In 2018, we saw a glimpse that the UAE had a team capable of returning to the finals, coming in fourth in their group despite winning two of their opening three matches in round three of qualifying.
Korean captain Son Heung-Min leads his club side Tottenham in goals this season in the Premier League with four, scoring the opening goal for his country in their previous draw with Iran.
At 25-years-old, Wolves midfielder Hwang Hee-chan already has 41 caps to his name and six goals for the national team, while Kim Gun-hee and goalkeeper Song Bum-keun are the only players chosen in this qualifying window who have yet to feature for the senior side.
Kim Shin-wook led the team in goals in the previous qualifying round, but he was not selected by Bento for this upcoming match, while Kwon Chang-hoon, who was also not included, scored the only goal in their first victory of this round, 1-0 against Lebanon.
Ali Mabkhout, the all-time leading goalscorer for the UAE with 78 goals, needs to play in only four more matches to reach 100 caps for his country.
Caio Canedo has only picked up nine international caps, but he has added another dimension to their attack, scoring the opening goal against Iraq, his fourth for the national team.
South Korea possible starting lineup:
Kim; Hong, M. Kim, J. Kim, Y. Lee; Jung, I. Hwang; Son, J. Lee, H. Hwang; Cho
United Arab Emirates possible starting lineup:
Khasif; Haikal, Abdulrahman, Al-Attas, Al-Ahbabi; Salmeen, Ramadan; Lima, Ibrahim, Canedo; Mabkhout
We say: South Korea 2-1 United Arab Emirates
The UAE are struggling this round to make all of their possession count, not to mention the fact that they have not beaten the Koreans in a match since 2006.
Korea have been here plenty of times before, and with a player the calibre of Spurs striker Son, they should be able to come out of this match victorious.
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