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World Cup

  • June 26, 2014
  • • 21:00
  • • Arena Corinthians, São Paulo, São Paulo
  • Referee: B. Williams
  • • Attendance: 61397

South Korea - Belgium Preview: Asians clinging to faint qualification hopes

South Korea - Belgium Preview: Asians clinging to faint qualification hopes

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Hong Myung-Bo's men must beat the Europeans convincingly and hope for a narrow Russia win or draw with Algeria in Curitiba in order to advance

By Kris Voakes in Sao Paulo

South Korea face Belgium in Sao Paulo on Thursday knowing that they have a mountain to climb if they are to join Marc Wilmots’ side in the last 16.

Coach Hong Myung-Bo blamed his defensive unit for the 4-2 loss to Algeria last time out, and he could well make changes in his back line as a result of that reverse, with Park Joo-Ho set to come in for Yun Suk-Young. However, there are selection dilemmas elsewhere too.

Park Chu-Young has largely been a passenger to this point, failing to register a single shot in over two games and being substituted in both as a result. Lee Keun-Ho has twice come on to make the difference for his side, netting the opener against Russia, but Hong may stick to his guns and leave him on the bench as an impact player.

For Wilmots, there is merely the question of whether rotation is a necessity ahead of the next round. Defeat for the Red Devils coupled with victory for Algeria against Russia could result in Belgium facing Germany in the last 16, so the former attacker may well err on the side of caution and send out his best available XI.

Thomas Vermaelen left the field after 30 minutes of the clash with Russia after picking up a knock in the warm-up so he may well be spared duty, although his likely replacement Jan Vertonghen is one of three players walking a disciplinary tightrope.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Koo Ja-Cheol
Koo Ja-Cheol
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 13
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 1 0

While others have occasionally flattered to deceive around him, captain Koo Ja-Cheol has maintained a decent standard during the competition so far. If Korea are to turn around their fortunes and pull off an unlikely result, then the Mainz midfielder will need to be at his inspirational best.

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
5 0 1 0

While Marc Wilmots has insisted repeatedly that there are no guaranteed starters in his squad, there can be little doubt that a successful tournament for Eden Hazard is likely to be key if Belgium are to go far. The Chelsea forward set up the winning goals in both of the Red Devils’ previous Group H fixtures, and another fine performance will surely result in another Belgium victory.


Marc Wilmots’ side have hardly convinced so far despite booking a place in the round of 16 with a game to spare, but the pressure is off them in Sao Paulo and that could well benefit them. With the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku in attack, they should have far too much for a Korean defence that even Hong Myung-Bo has admitted has been far from solid thus far.

Editor's Prediction

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