After an impressive opening game win against Greece, South Korea will be looking to play a similar counter-attacking, energetic game against the superior skills of Diego Maradona’s men. Argentina may have only beaten Nigeria by one goal to nothing in their first game, but they had enough chances in the game to have won by four or five. This game certainly promises to be an attacking and intriguing match-up at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
Argentina vs South Korea Betting Odds:
South Korea (+675)
Over 2.5 (-111)
Under 2.5 (-125)
The one standout aspect of Diego Maradona’s style of play when he on the field, apart from his supreme skill, was his unpredictability, so when he decided to drop Inter Milan’s two-goal Champions League final hero Diego Milito to the bench for the opening game in South Africa, the reaction was more eye-roll than shock. Milito’s replacement was the perfectly capable Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid, who, despite his talent, struggled to make an impact and seemed to slow the team’s play down. Expect to see Milito and Carlos Tevez up front against South Korea.
Other strange decisions by Maradona included playing Newcastle United’s right-winger Jonas Gutierrez in the right-back position and deploying Juan Sebastian Veron in a deep lying midfield position from which he gave the ball away on numerous occasions. There were of course, though, many positives for Argentina. Goal-scoring defender Gabriel Heinze was solid as a rock in defense. Carlos Tevez was dangerous running from a deep attacking position and Lionel Messi had the sort of game you expect of him – running past three man each time he got the ball and the only obstacle preventing him from comfortably scoring a hat-trick in the game against Nigeria was the form of opposition goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the Man of the Match.
South Korea were not expected to make a big impact at South Africa 2010 and in fact, many people thought that Greece would be the favorites in their first group game. But the South Korean team put in a fantastic display and were dazzling against a very poor Greece team. Park Ji Sung’s second half goal was the South Korea side personified: the Manchester United man stormed past two sluggish defenders and then beat the goalkeeper with refined finish into the corner.
South Korea’s biggest problem in their game against Greece was that they started to tire in the last 20 minutes, which resulted in Greece’s attackers getting in better positions and having numerous presentable opportunities. If South Korea start to tire against Argentina at any point, it could be fatal to their chances of getting anything out of the game. Unlike Greece, this Argentina side won’t be as charitable with their finishing. The South Korean team will hope that Park Ji Sung and Park Chu Young can put in the same level of performance as they did against Greece, when the two attacking midfielders pressed the defense into submission with their lung-bursting runs. They will need every drop of that boundless energy against Argentina.
If Argentina create as many chances as they did against Nigeria, it’s hard to see how South Korea can pull off a shock in this game. Lionel Messi will be looking to get his name on the score sheet for the first time at South Africa 2010 and it’s hard to see how South Korea are going to cope with his skill on the ball when running at pace. South Korea will try and take advantage of that weak Argentina right-back position, if Gutierrez somehow manages to retain his spot. But overall, Argentina have far too much quality for an industrious but limited South Korean team.
Argentina vs South Korea Prediction: Argentina 3-1 South Korea
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