South Korea Must Win Against Russia To Advance in 2014 World Cup
Group H at the World Cup is intriguing. It contains a dark horse favorite, a team on the rise, a team that is becoming a mainstay in the finals and a tricky matchup. Belgium is considered a favorite to win the group with Russia and South Korea battling it out for second place. The opening match on June 17 is a must win for South Korea as they take on Russia.
On the surface, South Korea is an outsider being ranked 56th overall by FIFA despite eight straight appearances. However, they are led by a strong core of Bundesliga players with their eyes set on the second round. Son Heung-Min is the main catalyst after shining with a move to Leverkusen. He struck for a hat trick against his old team Hamburg earlier this season. Hong Jeong-Ho and loanee Ji Dong-Won are at Augsburg with Dong-Won moving permanently to Dortmund in the summer. Mainz has two players, including club record signee Koo Ja-Cheol.
They will have to take their experience in one of the bigger European leagues to Brazil and put a lot of effort in game one. It is a complicated group with many chances for an upset as Belgium are dealing with some injury issues. The team that wins the match between South Korea and Russia will be on their way to the second round.
A draw between the two would mean they would need to get points against Belgium. This seems like a taller task for South Korea because of match up issues. Both Russia and South Korea are expected to get the full three points from Algeria. If there is a draw in the opening match it sets up a very real possibility of a tie between Russia and South Korea. No team wants to go to goal differential in the World Cup group stage.
South Korea surely wants to avoid any tiebreakers and focus on getting to the knockout round. If South Korea does come away with a draw in the opening match they will need to score as many goals as possible against Algeria. A loss to Russia will end South Korea’s World Cup on June 17.
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