Russia v South Korea Preview

Group H | Wednesday 18 June | Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba | 00:00




Russia and South Korea will be the last of the 32 nations to make an appearance at the world showpiece. Russia will fancy their chances of an early victory in the brand new Arena Pantanal, which is one of the stadiums that has been specifically built for the 2014 World Cup. However, the more mobile Koreans will be looking to shock the world just as they did in 2002 by reaching the semi-finals.

To Win (90mins)
Russia 5/10
Draw 28/10
S Korea 58/10

RUSSIA

The Russians are always a side to take seriously in major tournaments, even if they lack the star-studded squad many believe is required to make the latter stages in Brazil this year.

The fact that they qualified as Group winners ahead of Portugal means they are a team to be feared.

The whole squad plays its football in Russia but they will be well drilled by the vastly experienced Fabio Capello, who takes charge of a side in his second World Cup, having guided England to a somewhat disappointing second round exit in South Africa four years ago.

Capello appeared to get the best out of Russia in qualifying though as they topped their group, winning seven out of 10 matches and losing just twice, while they scored an impressive 20 goals conceding only five en route to securing their passage to Brazil.

They managed a 1-0 win over Ronaldo’s troops but lost out by the same scoreline in Portugal. Taking after coach Fabio Capello's style, the Russians are rock-solid defensively, easing the pressure off of its attackers.

Igor Akinfeev plays the biggest part when it comes to keeping the opposition from getting on the scoresheet. He is the team's stellar goalkeeper, who won the 2013 Russian Premier League Player of the Year for CSKA Moscow.

Russia’s top scorer in qualifying was Aleksandr Kerzhakov. The Zenit St. Petersburg striker has netted 25 times for his country and is one of a few players that played in the side’s last World Cup appearance.

Kerzakov could be partnered with 23-year-old Alexander Kokorin who plays for Dynamo Moscow. Hailed as the future of Russian football, he had five goals in nine games for his club and added four more for Russia during qualifying.

SOUTH KOREA

There's a rich football history in South Korea, given that the team has qualified for eight consecutive World Cups, not to mention that all-time best fourth-place finish in 2002.

But a suspect showing in qualifying, including a 2-1 loss to Lebanon and draws against Kuwait and Uzbekistan, ultimately cost manager Cho Kwangrae his job.

Now it's up to Hong Myung-Bo to mesh his young stars from domestic and European leagues. While loaded with potential scorers, the Taeguk Warriors as they're known, used 45 different players in qualifying, an indication of the squad's lack of cohesion.

Perhaps they can capture some of the magic of their coach, who captained South Korea's fourth-place finish 12 years ago. Park Chu Young is the man reiled upon for goals upfront.

The Arsenal striker had seen little of the pitch before a recent loan to Watford finally gave him a chance to compete on a regular basis.

He helped solidify his spot with a team-high six goals during qualifying. Elsewhere, Swansea maestro Ki Sung-Yueng, who just had a fantastic season on loan to Sunderland, is a vital part of how the side functions. His range of passing and box-to-box style of play is the nucleus of the side.

Betting PredictionDRAW 28/10
There has been just one previous meeting between the two countries, and it came just last November in the shape of an international friendly in Dubai where Russia won the match 2-1. Don’t expect too many goals in this match as both sides play a conservative style waiting for opportunities to arise rather than exposing themselves. That being said the draw looks a good bet.  

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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