17th June 2014
Kick Off - 23:00 GMT
Predicted Line ups:
Russia - Akinfeev, Berezutski, Ignashevich, Eshchenko, Schennikov, Zhirkov, Samedov, Faizulin, Denisov, Shatov, Kokorin
South Korea - Jung Sung-ryong, Lee Yong, Kwak Tae-hwi, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Chang-soo, Ki Sung-yeung, Han Kook-young, Lee Chung-yong, Son Heung-min, Koo Ja-cheol, Park Chu-young
Hey guys, Isn’t the world cup great? I mean, it’s really, really fantastic isn’t it? So far I’ve gorged on every single minute of all 14 games. This proved awkward when my girlfriend wanted to give me my birthday present on Friday midway through the Spain Netherlands game… I wasn’t impressed. We ended up watching Chile Australia in what can only be described as a ‘hostile silence.’ You see, the greatest thing about the World Cup is that even the games that you think are going to be totally supertosh are great. Who’d of thought that Switzerland vs Ecuador would provide a last gasp winner that would make Swiss chefs jizz all over their Lindt bunnies? It is because of this that I’m just as excited for the 17th game – South Korea vs Russia as I was for England’s opener in Manaus.
So where do we start with this one? With some irrelevant facts about each nation of course, we’ll get to the nitty-gritty-kicky-bally stuff in a second. I like South Korea, whilst its neighbours in the north insist on showing off with nuclear arms and all getting the same haircuts, Korea Republic are all together more fun and carefree. They also like to look good, the blokes over there spend over $900million a year on make-up, something that Wayne might consider after his next hair replacement sesh.
If South Korea are the Hello Kitty in this tournament then Russia are Blofeld’s pet cat. They aren’t exactly popular on the world stage right now seeing as they’re not massive fans of the old homosexuality.
Handy visualisation of above point.
Europe made their feelings of disdain quite clear to them during the Eurovision Song Contest a few months back by booing the shit out of two teenage girls while Luis Figo and Seth Galifianakis did their best to ignore it all….
Getting back onto the pitch, there’s only ever been one game between these two teams with Russia running out 2-1 winners last year in a friendly. Both of these teams are World Cup veterans however, with Korea qualifying for 9 cups and the Russians 10. Korea’s best run came in 2002 when they sneaked past Spain, Italy and Portugal on home soil, largely thanks to some suspect refereeing decisions and the tactical know-how of Guus Hiddink. The Dutch coach did so well with the lads that some particularly brilliant Korean ex-pats built a ‘Guuseum’ dedicated to him in his home town of Varsseveld. On a similar level of grandeur and spectacle, Steve McClaren opened a branch of Greggs after his sacking from the England job.
Russia on the other hand, hosts of the 2018 tournament are fronted by Postman Pat lookalike and old England gaffer Fabio Capello. He’s moulded the Oligarchs into a disciplined and measly outfit that have only conceded 5 goals in qualifying, largely thanks to experienced stopper Igor Akinfeev who has had a blinding season for CSKA Moscow captaining them to the Russian league with some cracking performances. Here he is being complimented by Kanye West, look at him soar.
One worry for Russia is they’ll have to battle the Koreans without influential midfielder Roman Shirokov who’s out with a knee injury. It’s a huge dent for Capello as he is as talismanic to them as Ribery is to the French – unlike France however, Russia don’t have any replacements in his position. Capello likes to field one up top, usually Kerzakhov as a target man that creates rather than gets on the score sheet himself. With this in mind, expect Alexander Kokorin to drop in from the left wing and sniff around the goal feeding off Kerzakhov’s donkey work. Fayzulin is another one to watch, he’s one of Capello’s favourites and will have to up his game in Shirokov’s absence. Formerly a right winger he tends to play centrally for his country, pushing forward and shooting from range.
Capello sets up stall with 4 at the back, Denisov sitting in front as protection with two wide wingers, two attacking midfielders and a lone striker. Their defence, while well organised is hefty and immobile so don’t expect any marauding runs from left back. They do like to play on the break though so I imagine they’ll move the ball up field at the earliest opportunity.
South Korea have made a bit of a dogs dinner (pun intended) of their pre-tournament warm up games. They got spanked 4-0 by Ghana then went down 1-0 to Turkey. Whilst both clubs represent decent opposition, by their own standards they can do a lot better. They have in Son Heung-Min a really exciting prospect. At just 21 this pacey striker has already netted 5 times for his country and cost Bayer Leverkusen 10million euros last year. He’s got two good feet and a lovely demeanour, check him out here being thoroughly affable.
He’s not alone in the scoring ranks either, midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol is real livewire. Another player making a living in the Bundesliga with Mainz 05, the Korean captain has a tendency to pop up with important goals. You might remember him from the Olympics a few summer’s ago as the ever present who steered Korea to a very respectable third place. Hong Myung-bo, the Korean coach likes to set his team up to counter. The versatile 4-2-3-1 gives the wingbacks scope to move forward very much in the same vain as Johnson & Baines for England and their attacking options, again similarly to England, are a lot more potent than a rather toothless back 4. Energetic and pacey, if Korea play the same brand of counter attacking football that got them to this stage then it will make for a really decent game. Two teams that look to build quickly signal some end to end stuff. Korea have more striking options to call on and the Russians have a more solid backline… I think both will give in this game and we’ll see a few goals.
Seeing as I called my last preview so spectacularly wrong and tipped Uruguay to crush Costa Rica, I’ve learned to ignore my head and predict the score with my gut. This has led me to believe that the Koreans are going to nick this one. A feisty affair with plenty of chances Korea Republic 2-1 Russia.
I have also decided that for each game I am going to make a ridiculous bet. For this game I’ve gone for an odd number of goals scored, between 9-11 corners in total and South Korea to kick the game off…. Not that the World Cup isn’t exciting enough already… I’m having the best month guys.
If you’re out and about on a Tuesday night and you find yourself up for a friendly boozer to catch this one then have a little goosey at this.