Brazil is looking to progress in the tournament, and the fully expects to be able to do so against South Korea. However, if this World Cup has taught us anything, it’s that the title of favourite means nothing. The Brazilians were well on their way to breaking through the group stage after having beaten Serbia (2-0) and Switzerland (1-0), but they were surprised by a Cameroonian team reduced to 10 men in their last group stage match. This is a match that is going to field one of the best-armed teams. If South Korea wasn’t already worried enough, Neymar is back for Brazil, even if he will be starting on the bench.
South Korea is the outsider who doesn’t cease to prove everyone wrong. Before the last game day, Heung Min-Son’s players seemed dead and buried after having drawn against Uruguay in the opening match, and lost against Ghana (3-2). But the match against Ghana showed that South Korea can pull off a comeback. This was proven beyond doubt against Portugal, where they came from behind to get a 2-1 win thanks to Hwang Hee-Chan’s goal in the dying minutes. Thus, South Korea became the second Asian nation to qualify for the knockout rounds after Japan.
Brazil vs South Korea: Can the quality of Brazil shine through?
Brazil possesses the qualities needed to bring home the World Cup and probably has one of the best teams. However, with rivals like France and England, who have managed convincing wins in the round of 16, does Brazil need to make a statement by getting a big victory over South Korea?
Face to Face, Brazil vs South Korea: Brazil dominated in previous encounters
This will be the eighth encounter between Brazil and the Republic of Korea. Since the very first competitive encounter between these two teams, Brazil has won six of the seven previous matches (1 loss), the most recent being a 5-1 victory in June. Before that, South Korea won only one match, an international friendly in March 1999 (1-0).
Brazil vs South Korea: Brazil has found its best eleven, and South Korea remains unchanged
After the defeat against Cameroon and the return of some key players, Brazil will try to align its best eleven with the return of Lucas Paqueta, Richarlison, and Danilo. We don’t yet know how Neymar will feature in the team. However, it is likely that Tite will use a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation, depending on the number 10 (Neymar or Lucas Paqueta).
South Korea, for their part, will use a 4-3-3 formation, similar to that used in previous matches, with Heung Min-Son playing primarily on the left but with the ability to move into the centre or even onto the other wing in a relatively flexible role.
The key to the match: The effectiveness of Brazil’s play
Against Cameroon, Brazil showed how efficient it was in creating opportunities, but wasn’t very accurate in the final third. Their style of play, wide but dull (in comparison to the exploits of previous Brazil teams) is still pleasant to watch and allows for some great moments from quality players, such as Richarlison’s goal against Serbia. Like the French team, Brazil rested some of its key players in the match against Cameroon, like Marquinhos. Danilo was replaced by Dani Alves, who is getting older, and Eder Militao played rather uncomfortably in left-back. Tite will need to change again, and perhaps opt for players like Bruno Guimaraes in the midfield and bring back Lucas Paqueta.
South Korea is a team filled with effective passers, who can break on the counter-attack. Once they gain momentum, they can be devastating. The key for Paulo Bento’s team will be to choose the right moments to pounce, as it did so effectively against Portugal. Heung Min-Son is, of course, the key player in this regard, but the team must not give in to the temptation to pass him the ball with no real objective.
Other predictions worth a shot for the match at 8 pm:
Brazil is the comfortable favourite in this match, but goals are to be expected on both sides. That’s why we foresee a score of 3-1, along with a number of goals higher than 2.5. Richarlison makes his return to this team and will want to continue his streak of good performances so far in this World Cup.