2014 World Cup Preview: South Korea vs. Russia

By Aydin Reyhan
South Korea Russia World Cup Preview
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Russia and South Korea will first play one another before facing Belgium and Algeria, two teams that can easily finish in first and second to end the group stage. If the Russians and South Koreans want to make some noise, they have to fight for the three points tomorrow.

After defeating Morocco in their last World Cup warm-up 2-0, the Russians showed that they can take the lead and defend successfully, something that will be even harder to do in the World Cup. Coach Fabio Capello is known for this type of strategy. He will rely on center back Vasily Berezutskiy to captain his troops. The midfield is organized and patience is one of their best strengths. Up top they will rely on Alexander Kerzhakov who has 25 goals in 81 games. At the age of 31, this could very well be his last World Cup.

South Korea will rely on midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng who started quite a few games for Sunderland in the Premier League this past season. His vision, ability to connect with teammates in a swift manner and calmness on the ball make him valuable. He just needs to trust his international teammates in the same way. Also, striker Son Heung-Min of Bayer Leverkusen will be the main option up top.

The issue with South Korea, as noted from their 4-0 thumping loss against Ghana last Monday, is that they are susceptible to the counter. Building up attacks through swift possession and guys filling in one another’s gaps is brilliant, but they do tend to rush shots on frame which makes it easier for opponents to block or save. They will need to slow down their game on the offensive front when building and will absolutely have to drop back to defend more often.

Russia is more disciplined when it comes to defending which will be their main advantage as they can hit South Korea hard on the counter.

Prediction: Russia 2, South Korea 1

Russia starts the scoring before scoring the game-winner later on in the second half of their match. South Korea will play a decent offensive game, but missed opportunities and lazy defending will cost them all three points.

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