South Korea v Belgium – Origi-Nal Red DevilStats
South Korea v Belgium
South Korea take on a Belgian side who have already reached the knockout rounds despite a couple of lacklustre performances in the tournament so far from many people’s dark horses.
After being soundly beaten 4-2 by Algeria in their last game the writing looks to be on the wall for South Korea, who prop up the table. They were on the verge of utter humiliation when the Africans coasted to a 3-0 lead in the first half of that game but to their credit the semi-finalists of 2002 did mount something of a comeback in the second half before a fourth goal from Yacine Brahimi sealed their fate. They drew 1-1 with Russia in a fairly drab first outing and qualification is out of the hands of a team who have three of their last four and conceded nine in their last three.
Substitute Divock Origi scored two minutes from time to earn Belgium a 1-0 defeat of Russia on Sunday although they were anything but convincing in that game as is illustrated by the two shots they had on target over the 90 minutes. They will care little though as that followed a 2-1 win over Algeria when they had gone behind only for another substitute, Marouane Fellaini, to get them back in the game before Dries Mertens lashed in the winner ten minutes from time. That was a fifth victory on the spin for the Belgians too and they’ve conceded only once in their past four so if the sign of a good side is to win playing badly then the other nations in the last 16 should take notice.
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is out for Belgium with a hamstring problem which saw him replaced before half-time against the Russians but wholesale changes could be made by Marc Wilmots now that they have guaranteed progress to the last 16. Eden Hazard has probably been their star player to date but could be rested to keep him fresh for the next game while the likes of Kevin Mirallas, Steven Defour and Adnan Januzaj will be hopeful of a starting berth.
Changes seem likely in the Koreans starting XI too as they were a shambles in the first half of their loss to Algeria before earning respectability in the second after the introduction of Shin-Wook Kim, Keun-Ho Lee and Dong-Won Ji, with the former two expected to get the nod from the off.
Head To Head
Belgium are undefeated in the three games they have played against the Koreans, most recently in 1999 when the European nation ran out 2-1 winners. The other two meetings between these two countries both took place in the World Cup group stages too. Belgium were 2-0 winners at Italia 90 while the teams earned a point each from their group encounter in France 16 years ago.
The odds on price of 20/23 for a Belgium side that can afford to rest players with qualification already assured and top spot guaranteed with a point looks dangerous even though they should have far too much for an extremely limited and fragile Korean team regardless of which side that takes to the field.
Origi looks like a player who could come into the reckoning now for Wilmots men have performed to a better level than Lukaku despite get far less playing time in the first two games.
Take the young Lille striker to score for the second game in succession at a more than reasonable 11/8.