International Friendly: South Korea vs Bosnia and Herzegovina – Lineups, Preview and Prediction

RealSport take a look at South Korea’s latest friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of their 2018 World Cup campaign.

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12:00 BST, Friday 1st June, Jeonju World Cup Stadium (Jeonju, South Korea)

After comfortably beating Honduras 2-0, South Korea step up their World Cup warm-up with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina ahead of their opening game Sweden on 18 June. 

This is the South Koreans ninth successive appearance in the tournament. After hosting the World Cup in 2002 in a joint bid with Japan, South Korean football has really taken off with players such as captain Son Heung-min part of the generation to benefit from long-term effects of the tournament. 

Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who failed to qualify for the tournament after an impressive Euro 2016 campaign where they reach the knockout phases, will be hoping to inspire their fans and continue their squad bonding ahead of their Euro 2020 qualification push. 

This is only the second meeting between the two nations with friendly in 2002 the only other encounter between them: a match that South Korea ran out as 2-0 winners. 

South Korea, coached by Shin Tae-yong, will know they have a real fight on their hands to get out of their group with Mexico, Sweden and defending champions Germany all competing to come out on top in Group F. 

Shin has also confirmed he will name his final 23-man squad for Russia after the match so the game takes on even more importance ahead of South Korea’s further preparations at their European base in Austria. 

South Korea Lineup

Manager Shin Tae-yong has opted to mix up his squad for these friendlies using Tottenham forward Son Heung-min sparingly, often taking him off with 20 minutes or so to spare.

Despite wanting a more youthful squad for the future Shin has always kept Crystal Palace midfielder Lee Chung-yong in the of midfield acting as South Korea’s resident lynchpin while Son and Hwang look to get forward at pace. 

Despite enjoying the majority of the possession against Honduras, South Korea will sit deeper against Bosnia with one of the two midfielders screening the defence. 

Once possession is gained, they will launch the ball forward to the prolific Son, who has scored 21 goals in 64 appearances for his team. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina lineup

On their day Bosnia, are a tough-tackling, ball-playing team with the perfect mix of flair players and experienced no-nonsense veterans. 

Most likely fielding a 4-3-3, Mehmed Bazdarevic will be able to put out an impressive midfield three with Muhamed Besic sitting in behind Miralem Pjanic and Elvis Saric.

The Bosnian attack is spear-headed by Edin Dzeko who, with his height and eye for goal, will prove a handful for the South Korean defence.

Key Players: Son Heung-min (South Korea) vs Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Son Heung-min is by far South Korea’s most dynamic and prolific player and he will be crucial should the Asian nation provide one of the biggest upsets of the Summer and qualify out of their group. 

This season, Son has really stepped up for Tottenham during Harry Kane’s absence to injury, scoring 12 and assisting six this season. 

It is his individual skill and intelligence off the ball that causes so many issues for the opposition, as the winger pulls players away from the ball with his runs allowing the likes of Kane and Dele Alli to thrive.

REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

Miralem Pjanic is one of the most understated midfielders in European football.

Plying his trade at Juventus, he plays as a productive pivot for the side, winning the ball back before recycling it to his teammates.

For Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Muhamed Besic or Gojko Cimirot sitting in behind him, Pjanic will be freed up to play a somewhat more creative role.

Expect to see his teammates move the ball to him in a bid to get him developing the play and finding Dzeko in goal-scoring positions. 

Talking points

Are South Korea a one-man team? 

Despite heavily relying on Son Heung-min, South Korea have a number of quality players that often go underneath the radar. 

Son’s fellow strike partner, Kim Shin-wook, is a huge asset for the squad. Despite being 30 years-old, the current Jeonbuk-Hyundai forward is almost as quick as Son yet possesses an ability to hold up the ball effectively, using his 6ft 5in frame to great effect.

Most likely to come into the game off the bench, keep an eye out for the player known affectionately as ‘Wookie’.

Do Bosnia have a gameplan? 

After failing to qualify for the World Cup, manager Mehmed Bazdarevic has changed the tactics completely. 

With opposition teams catching onto the fact that Bosnia looked toothless up top without Dzeko, Bazdarevic now gets Dzeko to drop deep, holding up the ball while the two wingers run ahead of him, either freeing themselves up for a pass or pulling the opposition defence away for the Roma striker to move into. 

Friday’s game will give a good indication of how successful this new approach will be for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Prediction: Bosnia 2-1 South Korea

The fact the Eastern Europeans have not qualified for the World Cup will mean that they have nothing to lose. 

As a result, expect Bosnian players to fly into challenges and 50/50s whilst the South Korean players will be less likely to want to contest for anything that might risk injury. 

Given it is almost certain that boss Shin Tae-yong will substitute Son off the pitch, not wanting to risk his “star man” getting a knock ahead of the World Cup, the South Koreans will have 60 to 70 minutes to make the difference.