The FourFourTwo Preview: South Korea vs Algeria
South Korea and Algeria to make a heroic, but ultimately doomed stab at qualification.
When South Korea secured a point against Russia courtesy of a goalkeeping blunder straight out of the England manual, there came but a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, they can work their way out of this fairly tricky table.
Certainly, on paper, it's Russia and Belgium that represent the strongest teams in Group H, but a win against Algeria here would leave Korea in good shape; a defeat would consign them to an early flight home.
Their final game in this group - against a Belgian side who struggled to break down the distinctly average-looking Algeria at the weekend - will not be viewed as Mission: Impossible. More, Mission: Highly Bloomin' Unlikely, But You Never Know. Regardless, Algeria is their best chance of a win in Brazil.
Meanwhile, the north African nation had the stuffing kicked out of them in their opening game by Belgium's second-half winner, having gone ahead with some ease in the opening period. The experience of Premier League men against boys won out, however; the might of Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany versus Nabil Bentaleb & Co.
That they scored at all will have given them some comfort. That they then failed to improve on their tally will be viewed as frustrating. Thankfully, Korea won't present nearly as tricky a task, but Algeria will have to be on their mettle to take the spoils here. Any hope of getting to the second round hinges on this tie.
What the local media say
"South Korean players said the match against Russia was a major boost to their confidence and that they felt Algeria is beatable. After Wednesday’s practice, team captain Koo Ja-cheol said the Algerian match was essentially a 'must-win' situation for South Korea. 'We have to defeat them to get to the round of 16', the midfielder said. 'We’ll concentrate on doing whatever it takes to win.'” - Korea Herald.
"Defender Rafik Halliche said, 'Our loss to Belgium is very harsh. We could have at least scored a draw.' 'The substitutions that the Belgians had in the second half made the difference for them. We felt very tired in the second half.'" - Magharebia
Key battle: Kim Young-gwon vs Feghouli
The Valencia midfielder/winger will have found some confidence from scoring his penalty against Belgium on Monday. His work against a back-line including the experience of Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany has steeled him for this fixture against South Korea.
Centre-half Kim Young-gwon, who makes trade for Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande, will have his work cut out here. Though if Feghouli doesn't improve on his side's effectiveness going forward he might not have to worry too much - Algeria attempted only three shots in their last match.
Facts and figures
- Their only previous meeting was in a friendly on December 14 1985 in the Mexican city of Nezahualcoyotl, with the game ending in a 2-0 win for South Korea.
- Sofiane Feghouli’s goal from the penalty spot against Belgium was the only shot that Algeria managed to hit on target in their opening game.
- South Korea have won just 1 of their last 6 World Cup group stage games (W1 D3 L2).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Mutually-assured destruction. A 1-1 draw, in other words.