So, it’s a bit overdue (but everyone already knows), but Korea was handed a friendly-ish draw on Friday. Korea ended up in group H with Belgium, Russia, and Algeria.
The task won’t be an easy one, but Korean fans should feel at least a little optimistic about the team’s chances of making it to the round of 16. On paper, Algeria should be three points, the team will have half a chance of beating, or at least taking a point, off the Russians, although not much should be expected against Belgium. It’ll be a fight certainly.
Here’s a recap of our previews of all the teams.
Belgium is another sneakily good team. If you haven’t seen them, then watch out! Just a glance down their team sheet and the fact that they easily topped their group (that contained Croatia, Serbia, Scotland, and Wales) isn’t such a surprise. In goal they have the best young keeper (and possibly one of the best in the world) in Thibaut Courtois. Solid center backs in Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, and Jan Vertonghen. Talented midfielders in Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Axel Witsel, and Kevin De Bruyne. And two bull forwards in Romelu Lukaku and Christen Benteke. A slight worry for Belgium will be their last two matches (against Colombia and Japan) where they lost both matches in Belgium. Belgium would be an extremely difficult opponent, but you’d think Korea may have a very small, outside chance at beating them or at least taking a point. The team generally is quite young, and that inexperience at the World Cup (Belgium hasn’t qualified since 2002) could be important.
Last Meeting: International Friendly (1999)
Result: South Korea 1 Belgium 2
Writer Ranking: Jae (8) Jinseok (8) Roy (6)
Algeria barely made the tournament, eeking out Burkina Faso in the playoffs 3-3 on away goals (2-1). Honestly, I know little about Algeria and only recognize a couple players in their squad. They wouldn’t seem to have much of a shot.
Last Meeting: None
Writer Ranking: Jae (32) Jinseok (32) Roy (32)
Russia has gone through some big changes over the past few years. The team looked to be an expansive, attacking team under the Dutch guidance of Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, but since Fabio Capello took over they’ve become a pragmatic, solid side. Russia seems firmly like a middle of the pack team, in that they won’t likely beat many top sides, but should have enough to keep the lower sides out.
Last Meeting: International friendly (2013)
Result: South Korea 1 Russia 2
Writer Ranking: Jae (13) Jinseok (15) Roy (13)
Korea has been spared a trip to the Amazon as well as the most punishing of travel schedules, with all three group games located in the southern half of the country.
Match 1: Russia vs Korea – Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba – 19:00
Match 2: Korea vs Algeria – Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre – 16:00
Match 3: Korea vs Belgium – Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo – 17:00
Should Korea advance to the round of 16 they would face opposition from Group G (Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA). They would either return to Porto Alegre (runner up) or Salvador (winner).
For more details and thoughts/analysis on Korea’s group and the World Cup in general, stay tuned for the podcast we recorded, which should be up soon.