South Korea vs Mexico – Saturday, June 23, 16:00BST/17:00CEST/18:00 MSK – Rostov-Arena, Rostov, Russia
Mexico are on cloud nine after having beaten world champions Germany on matchday 1. “We knew how to beat Germany six months ago. We followed it and got our result”, Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio later told the media.
As a result, Mexico got all three points against a Germany said that seemed overwhelmed at times with a fast attacking Mexico side. But the three points will be meaningless if El Tri fail to follow up their matchday 1 performance against South Korea on Saturday at the Rostov Arena.
“From the beginning, our intention was to be in first place,” said striker Raúl Jiménez in a press conference this week. “We want to win all our matches. To be champions we have to go through them all.” Finishing first would mean avoiding five times world champion Brazil in the round of 16.
For South Korea, in the meantime, the second match will be all about avoiding early elimination from the tournament. The Taegeuk Jeonsa were defeated 1-0 by Sweden on matchday 1 in what was overall a poor game by both sides.
That poor performance come of the back of a poor qualification campaign that saw South Korea and now seems to continue even after the World Cup has kicked off. South Korea, will, therefore, have to improve on their matchday 1 performance if they want to get a tangible result against the Central American side on Saturday.
Mexico’s performance against Germany, however, make El Tri the massive favourites to take all three points against South Korea on Saturday. In what would be a massive step towards reaching the round of 16 of the tournament. A stage that Mexico has failed to get past since in the last six tournaments.
South Korea vs Mexico – Players to look out for:
Hee-chan Hwang #11 – South Korea (Red Bull Salzburg)
The Red Bull Salzburg right-attacking midfielder had a sensational season in the Austrian Bundesliga and also in the Europa League. A fast and agile forward Hee-chan Hwang managed 13 goals and four assists in 37 games for Salzburg this season. For South Korea, his speed provides an interesting counter-weight to superstar Heung-min Son, who is occupying the left flank.
Hirving Lozano #22 – Mexico (PSV)
Hirving Lozano has the potential to become one of the biggest stars at this year’s World Cup. The PSV attacking midfielder has set the Eredivisie on fire this season scoring 17 goals and eleven assists in 29 games for the Eindhoven based side. A fast player Lozano was the man of the match against Germany where he scored the game-winning goal.
South Korea vs Mexico – Match Stats
- The two nations only faced each other once at a World Cup. Mexico beat South Korea 3-1 at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
- Mexico have won all three matches against Asian opposition at the World Cup. They have scored seven goals and only conceded two goals in the process.
- South Korea have not won in seven World Cup games (D2 L5).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: South Korea vs Mexico – 0-2
South Korea vs Mexico – Lineups
Jo – Park, Kim, Jang, Yong Lee – Koo, Ki, Jae-Song Lee – Son, Kim, Hwang
Head Coach: Tae-Yong Shin
Ochoa – Gallardo, Moreno, Ayala, Salcedo – Herrera, Guardado – Lozano, Vela, Layún – Chicharito
Head Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.