2010 WORLD CUP: SOUTH KOREA v GREECE – WHAT TO WATCH FOR

2010 WORLD CUP: SOUTH KOREA v GREECE – WHAT TO WATCH FOR

BEST FINISH

South Korea – 3rd (2002)

Greece – Group Stage (1994)

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea had a miracle run at the 2002 World Cup, as hosts. The general opinion that South Korea had arrived on the International scene as a power, were roundly dismissed after a poor performance in Germany four years ago.

The difference this year might be the number of players with European league experience.

Manchester United midfielder and team captain Park Ji-sung. Bolton Wanderers midfielder Lee Chung-Yong as well as Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-Yong have all put in significant time at their clubs. Korea’s manager Huh Jung-Moo will be looking to these players to lead both on and off the field.

South Korea were undefeated in the qualifying campaign and in recent friendlies have got the better of Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Japan although they slipped against Belarus.

South Korea have never proven they can win an overseas World Cup match as their lone 2006 victory against Togo is the team’s only win in the tournament outside if Korea. This is a stunning fact as South Africa will be South Korea’s 8th tournament appearance.

GREECE

Greece is a fascinating, if dull, team, having come from seemingly nowhere to win Euro 2004 in Portugal. No fluke, as they beat hosts Portugal twice in the tournament, the ladder match was in the final.

Greece know how to drag points and results out of any match, and they are a far cry from the team that limped through World Cup 1994 in the United States, the Hellenes only other World Cup appearance.

Manager Otto Rehhagel has a very patient, disciplined and organized team, and he knows the Greek’s would rather win than be pretty. Rehhagel is not afraid to park the bus in front of goal against powerful sides. Rehhagel has a side predominately made up of Panathinaikos players, and his side only lost twice in their Qualifying Group, both times to Group winners Switzerland. Theofanis Gekas of Eintracht Frankfurt was leading scorer in that group, bagging 10 goals in 10 matches.

The Greeks also disposed of a heavily favored Ukraine side in a two-legged playoff to qualify for the tournament. The lone goal in the playoff came in the second leg, in the Ukraine. Not many teams have the ability to patiently wait so long for an opportunity.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Look for the Koreans to attempt to establish some pace on the flanks of their 4-4-2 where they have Lee Chung-Yong on the right and Kim Jung-Woo on the left. The flank play will be supported by Park Ji-sung and Ki Sung-Yong. The Korean pressure will break down there as injured Jenonbuk Motors striker Lee Dong-Gook will be missing, for the first match at least.

Greece will do what Greece does and wait for an opportunity to punish the Asians for a mistake. Greece is not without teeth and the players up front in the their 4-3-3, such as Gekas and Celtic striker Georgios Samaras can score goals.

Greece will have a decided height advantage and that can lead to set-piece chances. Though an injured backline may create chance for the Koreans.

QUOTE

“If height were the main factor, we would have to have all basketball players.We are fully prepared. There is a risk, but we have our strong points.” – Korea manager Hung Jung-moo:

WHICH BATTLE TO WATCH FOR

Huh Jung-Moo v Otto Rehhagel. With all the excitement on the pitch, the contrast in style on the touchline will be intriguing. Rehhagel’s steady pressure against Huh Jung-Moo’s flexibility. Korea can switch formations from match to match and can even do it fluidly during a match. Look for the Korean boss to move to a 4-3-3 or 5-4-1 as need dictates.

WHAT PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR

South Korea – Park Ji-Sung. Asia’s most famous player will want to start this tournament out right.

Greece – Theofanis Gekas was not on the Euro 2004 winning side and this is his big chance on the big stage.

X Factor – Lee Chung-Yong. After a great season for Bolton, he just may be in the right place at the right time.

PREDICTION

Although I could be convinced of a 2-1 result in either direction, I am taking the happy median of 1-1.

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