South Korea

World Cup Preview: South Korea v Germany

Who? South Korea - Germany
Where? Kazan Arena, Kazan
When? June 27, 16:00 (CET local time)

South Korea

South Korea never was a real contender for qualifying to the next round. Yet, the unusual opening of the group made South Korea to be a in the list of the potential qualifiers in specific combination of results. The first thing they need to do is to defeat Germany.

South Korea played against Germany twice at the World Cup in the past, but it never was an easy task. In 1994, Germany led 3:0 by the 37th minute and the Koreans managed to score twice lately to a 3:2 defeat. Eight years late, in front of their local fans in Seoul, Germany won again 1:0 in the semi finals with a goal by Michael Ballack.

The main question among the Koreans is whether Son Heung-Min can lead the team for a better final match. Even if South Korea wouldn't win this match, they at least looking for a decent performance after their first two games. The hope is that Son will be in good shape, especially after his goal against Mexico.

This match may be South Korea last match in this competition. Without points and after scoring a single goal, South Korea want to prove that they have what it need in order to be a good opponent against Germany. Will it happen?


There is no words that can explain the importance of Toni Kroos goal against Sweden. Within few second, Germany changed their disastrous campaign opening for a hope to the next matches. Their match against South Korea will be their chance to make a first check for it.

During the last days, Germany spoke about anything but football. Unusually, one of the most professional teams in the world, find themselves dealing with controversies and discipline problems of the players. Joachim Löw is experienced enough and managed to handle it, but it was a sign for an upcoming failure.

After they defeated Sweden, Germany is facing much easier opponent as South Korea. Germany is holding great record against Asian teams. Except from the two wins against South Korea, they won each of their other four clashes against teams from this continent. Moreover, the goal difference in this matches is enourmous – 23 goals scored and only 3 goals against.

Germany have another mission, but they need to wait for other results. The Germans know that finishing in they can find an early match against Brazil, maybe even in the round of 16. As group F will be in the early hour of the day, Germany can't even make a calculations that will help them to avoid such meeting.

In any case, Germany wants to prove that they are real contenders to win the title once again. If they will fail against South Korea, it will be a massive failure. Qualifying to the knockout will be the moment for them to show their abilities and their power, no matter who will be against them.

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World Cup Preview: South Korea v Mexico

Who? South Korea - Mexico
Where? Rostov Arena, Roston-on-Don
When? June 23, 17:00 (CET local time)

South Korea (Yossi Medina)

Even in the worst-case scenario, South Korea couldn't imagine that they will begin the World Cup so badly. More than the defeat against Sweden, there is one thing that is bolder: South Korea didn't made a single shot on target during the game.

The Korean coach, Shin Tae-Yong will need to find a solution how to make his team more dangerous. It seems that Son Heung-Min, who usually has good performances in Tottenham Hotspur, is struggling to provide the same level in the national team. It's even harder when the center forward is Kim Shin-Wook, who plays in the K-League and scored 10 international goals in 51 caps.

A lot of pressure will be on Kim Min-Woo, the player who made the foul that led to the Swedish penalty kick. Kim plays in Sangju Sangmu, a club that representing the Korean army. If the coach Shin will make him to forget that incident, Kim Min-Woo will lead South Korea defense in this decisive match.

South Korea is fighting for their last chance in this World Cup. Another defeat will mark their way back home too soon.

Mexico (Meir Lozowick)

After beating Germany, Mexico find themselves in an unfamiliar situation: being the favourites of the group. Before the tournament, the match against Germany was the one that Mexico could loose up and yet fight for qualifying from the second place. Not that anyone in Mexico will complain, but this situation put a different type of pressure on the team. Euphoria, excessive over-confidence, and realization that the hardest hurdle is behind them could drop the positive tension & focus.

Unlike the match against Germany, Mexico will not arrive as an underdog but as a big favourite against South Korea. The coach Juan Carlos Osorio must prepare the team differently. South Korea is way less physical than the Germans and play in a total different way. If against Germany, Mexico played with counter attacks, against South Korea they will need to control the game with high possession and be the dominant team. Mexico has players like Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera that know how to hold the ball and distribute it to the attack, but the decision making on the last part of the pitch has to be much better than against Germany.

One of the players that could get into the action is Raul Jimenez. Jimenez is a completely different striker than Chicharito. Jimenez is a big and tall striker that can hold the ball, and more importantly can be the target man in the South Korean area. He was the super sub in Benfica and scored some several important goals that helped Benfica to win two titles in Portugal. Yet, Jimenez had enough of being substitute striker and just before the World Cup began, he moved to Wolves, the newly promoted team of the Premier league in England. Even before his new adventure, Jimenez would like to demonstrate that he can be decisive as a starter. There is no better place to demonstrate it other than the biggest stage of the world.

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World Cup Preview: Sweden v South Korea

Who? Sweden - South Korea
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? June 18, 14:00 (CET local time)


If you need to understand the Swedish team for the World Cup, all you need to do is to read what Janne Andersson, Sweden manager, at the end of the second leg against Italy: "It's unbelievable! This player has just stopped to play for Sweden one and a half years ago and we are still here talking about him".

Andersson had a lot of luck compared to those who had the same job a few years ago. He didn't have Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an option in his squad. For years it seems that even though Sweden had one of the biggest football stars in the world, they always struggle to play with him. Sweden failed to qualify for the last two World Cups and being eliminated in group stage at the last three Euro campaigns.

In the new era, the Zlatanless era, Sweden is looking forward. Those who are focusing on the defensive style against Italy are almost ignoring the face that Sweden made great attacking performances during the qualifiers. Andersson changed the point of view for the team – from being a group of players that play with a star, Sweden became a unit that plays together as a team.

Sweden brings another important thing to this World Cup, a new generation that is eager to put Sweden back on the peak of a major tournament. These players made two unusual achievements for Sweden as youngsters with winning the U-21 European Championship in 2015. Among them you can find John Guidetti, Victor Lindelöf and Isaac Kiese Thelin.

With such optimism, you can understand why Sweden feels that they don't need Zlatan anymore. Sweden had a complete renovation and maybe it will be more accurate to say that Sweden became a team.

South Korea

The Taegeuk Warriors arrive to Russia with a long tradition of World Cup participations. The Koreans are participating in the World Cup for the 9th consecutive tournament, one of the longest active streaks in World Cup history.

A look on the squad will show that most of the players are playing in Asia, mainly in the K-League but some of them also in Japan and China. Yet, you can find some players that play in Europe. The leader will be Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City. Ki will play his third World Cup and he wants to make a good performance with his teammates.

Another name that is a bit unfamiliar is Hwang Hee-Chan, Red Bull Salzburg's striker. While everyone will be watching on Son Heung-Min, Hwang will have a chance to show his kills. His last season was superb while he scored five goals in his Austrian club Europa League campaign, which ended only in the semifinals.

With Germany, Mexico and Sweden, the mission to qualify for the next stage is seems to be impossible. After looking at South Korea, this team maybe will not do so, but they can be a tough obstacle from each of their rivals.

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World Cup Warm-up: South Korea v Bolivia

Who? South Korea - Bolivia
Where? Tivoli Stadion, Innsbruck
When? June 7, 14:10 (CET local time)

Being a talented youngster can always make problems for a player. You find yourself in a constant chase for reaching goals that others think you need to achieve, not necessarily close to your skills.

Many wonder kids have been in this place. The next World Cup will be the first chance for one Korean boy to show his skills and maybe try to be a real key player. It will be the 20 years old winger, Lee Seung-Woo.

Lee has been marked as one of the future stars of the Korean football when he was 12 years old. Today it is too common to see teenagers that leave their home early for playing in prestigious academy abroad. Lee got an offer to join Barcelona and he was part of the youth teams until the last summer.

Like many other of La Masia alumni, Lee failed to be part of the senior team and almost did not get a chance in Barcelona B. Yet, his potential was enough for him to find a new future in Hellas Verona. It was his debut season in a senior top-flight and it was not bad – 14 appearances and 1 goal.

In the last weeks, Lee Seung-Woo made his first caps for the senior team. In his debut against Honduras he played in the first XI. Few days later he entered as a substitution against Bosnia and Herzegovina, as he replaced Hwang Hee-Chan, one of the leading Korean footballers today. In both of the matches, he impressed the local fans and got their support.

The Korean national team will have a mixture of talents. It a mixture between experienced players like Son Heung-Min and the talented players that won the bronze medal in 2012 Olympic Games. Lee Seung-Woo nee to show now that he can join these players and not get lost as a former wonderkid.

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