South Korea have never reached the semi-finals while Japan did, but way back in 1968. Can the Asian nations make a mark this time around?
Goal.com looks at what's in store for them and analyses their chances of progressing..
|Japan vs Egypt
|The Japanese must remain organized against Egypt
Japan started their Olympic campaign with a massive victory over Spain. They soon followed that up with another 1-0 win over Morocco which ensured that they make it to the quarter-finals. In their final game against Honduras, they came away with a scoreless draw to take top spot.
Now they take on the Egyptians who have had an entertaining time at the Olympics thus far. They kicked-off their tournament against favourites, Brazil who overpowered them in the first half to lead 3-0 going into the break but Egypt fought back in admirable style, pulling back two goals before the final whistle. They endured a frustrating 1-1 draw against New Zealand before beating Belarus 3-1.
Beating Spain was an incredible achievement for the Japanese and the manner in which they did so made the victory all the more impressive. They may have even won the game by a bigger margin than 1-0 if it hadn't been for their poor finishing.
Scoring goals has been Japan's main shortcoming over the group stages. They may have won their group but it must be pointed out that they did so whilst scoring just two goals. It's important that they make the most of their chances at this stage of the competition. They will take comfort from the fact that their defense has been virtually impenetrable and that organization in defense will need to come to the fore once again.
In contrast, Egypt have watched the goals fly in at both ends during their encounters in the group stages. They scored a total of six goals so far with two of those ending up in Brazil's net. However, they have also conceded five goals of their own and may find it a lot harder to score against Japan.
Nevertheless, the Egyptians have proven that they can play well even with their backs against the wall. They fought back strongly against Brazil in their opening game and put in a strong performance in their must-win game against Belarus to come away with a 3-1 victory.
We expect Japan to come through this encounter and march onwards to the semi-finals. Egypt have played well and their captain, Mohamed Aboutrika has been exceptional but the Japanese will be wise to the Egyptian and we expect them to put in another stellar defensive performance. If they do breach the back line they will still have to get past Shunsuke Ando who has been in inspirational form in the Japanese goal. Japan should be able to grab a goal and come away with a narrow victory.
South Korea vs Great Britain
|South Korea must be more clinical
South Korea have been impressive during the group stages but had to battle to hold off Gabon in their final game to qualify for the quarter-finals by securing the second spot in their group. They have been solid in defense but their strikers should have scored more goals.
They now face Great Britain who are coming off a couple of great performances. The host nation have convincingly topped their group and will want to keep up their momentum going into this quarter-final clash. Great Britain may not have a water-tight defense or a free-scoring attack for that matter but the balance in the side is quite evident.
The fact about the South Korean team that stands out is that they have only managed to score in one of their three group games. They scored their two goals against Switzerland against whom they also conceded their only goal.
Worringly, their lack of goals does not stem from not having enough possession or shots at goal. On the contrary, they have managed an average of 55% possession over their three games and have had a total of 44 shots. Disturbingly, only 12 of those shots found the target which results in a very poor 27% shot accuracy. The Koreans will need to work the impressive Jack Butland a lot more than that if they intend to find a way past the 19-year old.
Great Britain have had no problems in possession either, boasting an impressive 63% against a strong Uruguayan side in their final group game. The midfield trio of Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Tom Cleverley were particularly impressive on that ocassion. Stuart Pearce has shuffled his team around a bit but the chemistry between the players has been outstanding.
The side have gelled well in a short space of time and must be applauded on that front. Five Welsh players have regularly been part of the starting eleven and having never played with the Englishmen internationally before, they have worked extremely well together. Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy bring in a wealth of experience to the side. The support for the home team has grown much stronger following their good performances.
South Korea have some very intelligent players and are a hard-working side but we reckon Great Britain will be more than they can handle. Having watched a star-studded English team struggle their way to the quarter-finals of the European Championships, it's refreshing to watch Great Britain pass the ball around neatly and enjoy the greater share of possession. The midfield move the ball well and they are threatening down the flanks. Perhaps lacking a natural goalscorer but they still seem to create enough opportunities to find the back of the net. If Great Britain score early, it could end up being a high-scoring affair. The Koreans will have to put in a good shift and take their chances if they are to defeat the British.
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