Russia and South Korea have had a long wait to get their 2014 World Cup campaigns underway, but will finally be in action when they clash at Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba tomorrow morning.
Belgium are rated the clear favourites in Group H and expected to qualify for the second round with ease, but both Russia and South Korea, as well as Algeria, all believe they are a chance of finishing second in the Group and this will be a vital clash for both sides.
The Russia vs South Korea 2014 World Cup game will kick off at 8am on Wednesday morning (AEST).
This may not be one of the most high profile clashes during the 2014 World Cup, but you can still find a wide range of betting markets for the match at Ladbrokes.com.au.
How They Will Play
Manager Fabio Capello is a notoriously pragmatic coach and Russia have drifted back towards a defensive style of play after a period of attacking football under the care of both Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat. Russia has tended to play in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation under Capello and this helped the side concede just five goals during qualifying.
The Russia defense is led by Sergei Ignashevich and Vasili Berezutski and these two veterans have formed a strong partnership for both the national side and CSKA Moscow. They will be joined in defense by the attacking Alexander Anyukov and the consistent Dmitri Kombarov. This defensive line is arguably the strength of the Russian side and may be difficult to break down for the notoriously wasteful South Korean strikers.
Alexander Kokorin has generally played as a lone striker for Russia under Capello and he how he performs in this match may determine the outcome. The Dynamo Moscow youngster is the attacking spark in this side and along with playmarker Alan Dzagoev represents the future of Russian football. It will be Dazagoev who pulls the strings for Russia in midfield and he will be supported in the centre of the pitch by Denis Glushakov, who will fill the gap between the defense and midfield.
Key Player – Alexander Kokorin
It is unlikely that Russia will concede too many goals against South Korea and the goal scoring prowess of Kokorin could prove to be the difference between the two sides. He has a fair strike rate for both club and country and this is his chance to make a mark on the world stage.
How They Will Play
South Korea played with a number of different formations during their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, but have tended to sit back and play on the counter attack under the care of Hong Myung-Bo. The Korean side is full of speedsters and they can be very dangerous when they have the opportunity to break from defense and get in behind the defense of their opposition.
Lee Chung-Yong and Son Heung-Min are the most dangerous players in the South Korea side and will play on either flank and Hong will be hoping that these players can get into space as often as possible. Koo Ja-cheol will just behind the striker and represents South Korea’s best chance of scoring goals. Park Chu-young will like start up front, but has struggled for form in the past year and it is South Korea’s lack of a key striker that could makes thing difficult against the tough Russian defense.
The South Korean defense struggled at times during qualifying and proved particularly poor at defending from set pieces. Under Hong, this defense has improved, but there are still question marks over the likes of Kim Young-gwon and Lee Yong. Hong Jeong-ho is expected to partner Young-gwon in the centre of defense and has performed well in the Bundesliga this season, while youngster Kim Jin-soo may be given an opportunity at right back.
Key Player – Koo Ja-cheol
Koo Ja-Cheol has a strong goal scoring record for South Korea and with the lack of a standout striker in the side will need to score his share of goals if his side is going to progress to the second round of the 2014 World Cup.
Neither of these teams is going to take the attack to the other and scoring chances are likely to be at a minimum. Whichever team is able to take advantage of their scoring opportunities will probably take the three points, but a low scoring draw is a distinct possibility.
World Cup Betting Plays
Russia are short-priced favourites to start their 2014 World Cup campaign with a victory and are available at odds of $1.83 with Ladbrokes.com.au. While they deserve to be favourites, this does not represent great value and South Korea are a far better chance than their odds of $4.60 suggest.
With both teams expected to take a defense approach into this game the odds of $8.50 for the game to finish as a scoreless draw is good value. Another play worth considering is the $13 on offer for Koo Ja-cheol to open the scoring.
World Cup Promotions
Leading online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au are offering a wide range of promotions on 2014 World Cup betting markets and are offering new customers a free bet worth up to $250 to all punters who sign-up and deposit. This bonus can be used to back Russia, South Korea or any other team taking part in the 2014 World Cup.