Russia should have enough to see off limited Koreans.
After a number of mouth-watering clashes, the first round of group matches draws to a close with what many are predicting as a bit of a damp squib.
Of course, it’s a fixture that’s all-important to fans of Russia and South Korea but this might not be a match that entices neutrals to stay up past their bed time though, of course, our betting markets are just as extensive as for other games.
Fabio Capello will be hoping to steer Russia past the group stages for the first time – we’re inclined not to account results achieved as part of the USSR. They did edge out Portugal in their qualifying group but it was a section that threw up its fair share of shock results, including a defeat for Capello’s men against Northern Ireland.
They never conceded more than once in any of their games, however, and it might help their cause that all of their squad play in domestic football – the Moscow clubs supplying the majority. But they had their limitations exposed at Euro 2012, crashing out in the group stages despite winning their opening game, and there is little evidence to suggest they’ve improved much since.
South Korea have probably played more warm-up games than any other nation in Brazil but results have been a mixed batch. One of their defeats was against Russia on neutral ground in Dubai in November, though only a goal separated the sides at the final whistle after they’d been tied at 1-1 at half time.
Heung-Min Son has been among the goals for Hong Myung-Bo’s team lately and is one of their brightest prospects. The squad also includes several players with Premier League or Championship experience, including Cardiff’s Bo-kyung Kim, but there is a noticeable lack of tournament experience which won’t be compensated by enthusiasm to put up a good show.
Their defensive record isn’t too clever either and you would suspect they will get exposed sooner rather than later in the competition – Mexico, Ghana and the USA have all put them to the sword in recent friendlies.
An early goal for South Korea would make this interesting but Russia should run out comfortable winners, available at 13/10, if they get their noses in front. A 2-0 correct score is 15/2.
This match kicks off at 11pm UK time on Tuesday June 17th at the Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba.