South Korea vs Mexico: 3 things South Korea need to do to beat Mexico

With contrasting fortunes in the opening games of Group F, South Korea have to turn their luck around if they want to avoid an early exit.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

In the opening round of fixtures, these two teams put on drastically different performances. Mexico were the surprise package as they beat Germany 1-0 and looked relatively comfortable in doing so. 

South Korea, on the other hand, contributed to what was arguably the least exciting match. Sweden beat them by a single goal, converted from the penalty spot.

Before the tournament, Mexico would have been expected to beat South Korea and following the performances last week, El Tri should have even more expectation on their shoulders to get the job done.

The South Koreans have a task on their hands if they are to take something away from this match and leave themselves with a slim chance of qualifying.

Here are three things they need to do to cause an upset.

  1. 1 Sit deep

    The world learnt about Mexico’s devastating counter attack when they tuned into the match versus Germany. Joshua Kimmich and Marvin Plattenhardt were both used as attacking outlets by the world champions, but this left Die Mannschaft exposed.

    For the first thirty minutes of the match, Mexico left three attackers high up the pitch to take advantage of Joachim Low’s tactics.

    Mexico had plenty of opportunities to score in this period of the match as Germany stuck with their setup, with Hirving Lozano eventually tucking the ball home and Mexico seeing the match out.

    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    The warning signs were obvious, but Low's stubbornness in refusing to keep his fullbacks deeper cost his side three points. Once Mexico went 1-0 up, their attacking job was over and the team came out in the second half with part two of their plan.

    Juan Carlos Osorio’s side were then to preserve that one goal and frustrate the opposition for the rest of the game. Germany had their chances, but none were clear cut despite their dominance in possession. 

    Against Mexico, South Korea will naturally be less ambitious than Germany were, but they have to resist the temptation to bomb forward if they get momentum in the game, or else El Tri will do exactly what they did against the holders of the World Cup.

    REUTERS/Matthew Childs

    If South Korea go behind, too, they are not as likely to score as Germany were. A strike force of Timo Werner, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil and more was not enough to break down the Mexican defence, so it is hard to see Son Heung-min and co. achieve what they couldn't.

    A deep South Korean defence will force Mexico to find a different way through. In midfield, they lack a dedicated creative force, preferring the hard working Hector Herrera and Andres Guardado.

    Lozano and Carlos Vela can provide a cutting edge, but it’s harder to provide value from the wing against a deep-lying side.

  2. 2 Keep Lozano quiet

    Hirving Lozano’s debut season in Europe could not have gone much better. After helping PSV Eindhoven to their 24th Eredivisie title, contributing 17 goals, he has established himself as the key player in Mexico’s attack. 

    The left winger handed victory to his country after he beat Manuel Neuer at his near post in the victory against Germany, but he got in behind the Germany defence and looked a threat throughout the entire game.

    South Korea now need to make sure they don’t afford Lozano the time and space he had when Kimmich went on the offensive.

    REUTERS/Carl Recine

    This will involve South Korea’s right wing doubling down on the 22-year-old and starving him of possession.

    Once Lozano receives the ball, he will look to take on his marker and head straight for goal. Although Carlos Vela played well on the right wing for Mexico, the former Pachuca man was the star of the show, and it will probably be the same story for the rest of the tournament, so high is his confidence.

    For South Korea to take anything away from this game, they need to make sure that Lozano is not a threat.

  3. 3 Use Kim Shin-wook

    The K-League striker is pretty much unheard of in Western circles, having spent his entire career in South Korea. He definitely made his presence felt against Sweden, though.

    Kim proved a handful for Andreas Granqvist and Pontus Jansson, using his physical presence to its potential.

    Sweden’s centre-half pairing are not exactly weaklings, and the fact that Kim had his opportunities to score bodes well for future fixtures.

    The South Korean colossus stands at 1.98m, and against Mexico will have a clear height advantage over Hugo Ayala and Hector Moreno who measure 1.83m.

    REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

    Expect to see South Korea try to get Son on the ball and into crossing positions from which Kim can benefit. Their full backs will probably cross from deep too to give him all the opportunities possible to get ahead.

    The striker will prove to be a useful defensive outlet, too.

    If the Asian side find themselves under pressure from Mexico, Kim can use his strength to hold the ball up front to allow his teammates an opportunity to reorganise.

    Ultimately, Kim needs to be more clinical than he was against Sweden, but his power up front could be the key to unlocking the Mexico defence for his team’s other attackers, too.

    Who do you think will come out on top in this game? Let us know by commenting below.

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