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 advanceBy 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.