South Korea still have slim hopes of reaching the World Cup knockout stages but will need to beat Group H leaders Belgium in Sao Paulo on Thursday night.
The Asian side have only earned one point so far in the tournament but will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Marc Wilmots's side by more goals than Russia, if they see off Algeria.
Despite already guaranteeing a place in the last 16, Belgium are not sure to finish top of the group. If they are beaten and Algeria overcome Russia, then the African side will finish in first place.
Wilmots is likely to start Divock Origi ahead of Romelu Lukaku up front after his late winner against Russia on Sunday.
Thomas Vermaelen is also struggling with injury and may have to sit out.
The last time these two sides met was in a friendly 15 years ago when Sandy Martens scored twice for Belgium in a 2-1 win.
South Korea vs. Belgium (Group H)
2 way line – Belgium -0.5 (-130) South Korea +0.5 (+110)
3 way line – Belgium (-130) South Korea (+375) Draw (+260)
Total – Over 2.5 (-110) Under 2.5 (-110)
Side: Belgium have six points and are through to the knockout stages, but they also have played mediocre soccer twice and haven’t lived up to their billing as a possible dark horse candidate to win the entire tournament. In their match with Russia, they basically invited the Russians to attack them and Russia wouldn’t do it. Both teams feared the counter attack and it made for a boring game that lacked chances. The Belgium defense was broken down just once when a long cross beat the central defenders and Russia should have scored. The Red Devils took just one shot that was on target in the entire match.
Lucky for them, it was the one that Divock Origi scored on. They’ll probably use a few substations to gain some experience before the knockout rounds but they would be best suited to finally put together a team effort worthy of a group winner. They will face a wounded South Korea whose hopes rest on a win and a large goal differential reversal, so the Belgians should have their chances in the counter attack. As unimpressive as they’ve been, Belgium still have two wins, six points, and a guaranteed spot in the knockout stage, imagine what happens if they finally play well.
South Korea did not appear ready for the strength of the Algerians. Long balls over the top consistently put South Korea on edge and the Algerian strikers just out-muscled their way to multiple goals. The Koreans have seemed almost tentative in each of their first two matches and have to throw caution to the wind if they expect to last more than 90 more minutes in the tournament. They have the talent to play a quick sharp passing style of play that can expose even some of the best defenses, but they’ve continued to rely on long shots that have not been effective.
Kim Shin-wook has to be a part of the starting 11 when Korea take the field against Belgium because he was single-handedly able to turn around the Taegeuk Warriors attack. Rather than shooting from far out, they turned to sending in long high balls to their tallest player and he did remarkably well. The ability to play over the defense relieved a lot of pressure on their defenders because they no longer had to send as many numbers forward to create offensive threats. However, the Belgium center defense is equipped with two defenders that measure well over six feet, so the strategy probably won’t be as effective in this match. Pick: Belgium (-130)
Total: At some point in this tournament the Red Devils talent will unveil itself and begin producing goals. However, this may not be the spot for it to happen. In each of the first two matches South Korea has looked as if they will do anything to keep their opponents away from counter attacking. They’ve launched long shots, they’ve hit long crosses, and they refuse to send outside defenders forward on a regular basis.
Belgium don’t need anything from the match so they will likely not force too many situations that could leave them exposed at the back. Therefore, the most likely style of play is something similar to the previous Belgium match. Lots of harmless passes through the midfield with very few real scoring chances. Pick: Under 2.5 goals (-110)
South Korea: LDLLWL
Possible starting lineups
South Korea: Jung S-R, Yun S-Y, Kim Y-G, Son H-M, Park C-Y, Lee Y, Koo J-C, Han K-Y, Ki S-Y, Lee C-Y, Hong J-H
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne; Mertens, Mirallas, Origi
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