Following Saturday’s comfortable victory over Nigeria, Argentina travel to Soccer City to face the Tigers of Asia, South Korea. With three points already secured La Albiceleste will be expecting another victory to ensure passage into the last 16. However following their impressive 2-0 victory over Greece, the Koreans are likely to be anything but a walk in the park (pardon the pun!).
Thursday’s clash will be just the third time these sides have locked horns, and history favours Argentina who came out victorious in both previous encounters. The only previous World Cup meeting of La Selección and the Tigers took place in the group stages of the 1986 finals. A George Valdano brace helped La Albiceleste to a 3-1 victory, which set them on their way to eventually winning the trophy. A 2003 friendly also resulted in a 1-0 victory for the Argentinians.
It is also worth noting that at this stage four years ago, Argentina produced perhaps the finest performance of the 2006 tournament dismantling Serbia and Montenegro 6-0. However, considering the lack of goals in the tournament thus far and South Korea’s display against the Greeks, a repeat performance seems unlikely.
Following the convincing victory over Nigeria, changes to the starting 11 are highly unlikely. If Maradona does wish to shuffle the pack, the most likely move would be to drop the disappointing Gonzalo Higuain for Diego Milito, however the Real Madrid forward will most probably be given a second chance.
Following their comprehensive victory over an albeit poor Greece side, the Koreans appear to be the most dangerous side in the group. Well disciplined and full of running,the Asians are no longer minnows at this level and will not be over awed by the prospect of facing Messi and company. Manchester United’s Park Ji Sung is the undoubted star of the show, and combines fantastic stamina and work rate with an underrated technique, demonstrated by his well taken goal against the Greeks.
The danger man Park Ji Sung
Monaco forward Park Chu-Yong was a lively presence in the opening game, but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal and right back Cha Du-Ri patrolled the flank in impressive fashion. Midfielders Lee Chung-Yong and Ki Sung- Young are techinally gifted and will ensure Javier Mascherano and Juan Sebastian Veron are kept busy.
Once again Argentina are heavy favourites with odds of 2/5, while South Korea are perhaps worth a bet with odds as long as 17/2. More info at http://www.oddschecker.com/football/internationals/world-cup/argentina-v-south-korea/win-market
South Korea are likely to provide a sterner test then Nigeria, but should Argentina replicate some of the approach play displayed in the opening game it is hard to predict anything other then an Albiceleste victory. The Koreans won’t roll over, but Argentina will take the points with a 1-0 victory.