World Cup 2018: South Korea vs. Mexico preview, players to watch, key stats
Jung Woo-young says South Korea is braced to tackle a Mexico side set to play a more attacking style after El Tri stunned defending champion Germany in its World Cup opener.
South Korea is in urgent need of a positive result, having lost 1-0 to Sweden in the first game of Group F in Russia. In Rostov-on-Don on Saturday, the Koreans will meet a Mexico team enjoying an unexpectedly commanding position following its stunning success against Joachim Low’s side.
But, according to Jung, El Tri are unlikely to employ the same counterattacking approach at Rostov Arena, where Juan Carlos Osorio’s side will justifiably be considered the favorites.
“Mexico have quick players who are good in one-on-one situations and like to penetrate [the opposition’s defence],” the midfielder said. “Compared to the match against Germany, I believe Mexico will play differently against us. Of course, we’re also not going to [play] like Germany.
“You can compare the two teams on paper, but we know we have to produce results that can [disprove] people’s predictions. We’re not thinking about whether we are less talented or not a better team [than] Mexico. We just think about how we can stop Mexico from playing their style of game.”
Mexico coach Osorio confirmed Jung’s assessment, calling on his players to demonstrate their quality on the big stage as they seek to secure passage to the round of 16.
“It’s time for Mexico to show that we can take the initiative,” he said. “There is a big difference between playing against Germany or [another] powerhouse. We are, supposedly, superior to our opponents. We have to impose our [own] conditions.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mexico – Hirving Lozano
The scorer of the only goal in the surprise 1-0 victory over Germany, PSV star Lozano was already being tipped for a move to one of Europe’s heavyweight clubs, and the attacker’s decisive strike in Moscow will invite yet more interest in his qualities.
South Korea – Ki Sung-yueng
Osorio identified outgoing Swansea City midfielder Ki as an important figure for South Korea, and urged his players to bypass the center of the pitch in a bid to nullify the 29-year-old’s influence.
KEY OPTA STATS
– Mexico has not won back to back matches at the World Cup since 2002, when it beat Croatia and Ecuador in the first two group matches that year.
– South Korea has failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 of its last 13 World Cup matches, conceding in each of the last seven games in a row.
– Rafael Marquez appeared in the opening match for Mexico, making him the third player to play in five separate World Cup tournaments (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) after fellow Mexican Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.
– Marquez was 39 years and 124 days old in his substitute appearance against Germany, making him the oldest outfield player to appear in a World Cup match since Roger Milla (42 years, 38 days) played for Cameroon against Russia in 1994.