Korea Republic V Greece Preview: Saturday, 12th June (Group B)

8th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Previews & Predictions
World Cup Previews & Predictions

Korea Republic V Greece

Kick-off: Saturday, 12th June – 12:30 GMT
Stadium: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Michael Hester (New Zealand)
Group B

 

Korea Republic

South Korea, or Korea Republic, have been the most consistent Asian nation in World Cup history when it comes to qualifying for the main event, having done so on eight occasions and South Africa being their seventh in succession. That’s some feat, or at least it should be. In Asian quarters, though, it’s to be expected from a nation which has grown accustom to making the finals. Nevertheless, South Korea do stand the better chance of any of the other three Asian contingents; Australia, Japan and North Korea and their’s a considerable amount of pressure on Korea Republic to shine in South Africa after being eliminated at the group stage at the German finals in 2006.

South Korea set the bar for all Asian country’s participating as in 2002, on home soil in front of an enthusiastic Korean following, Korea Republic, under the conveyance of the now Turkey manager Guus Hiddink, shocked the footballing world with their run to the semi-final. They were eventually sent packing by the consist Germans, but they defeated Portugal, Italy and Spain on route to a spectacular semi-final finish. We shouldn’t also forget that at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, despite South Korea failing to qualify from their group, they earned a hard-fought draw with France, so the Koreans are no mugs and this difficult group may actually suit a country which has thrived off stiff competition in recent finals.

Korea’s qualification was relatively straightforward, dropping eight points as they finished top of their group without losing a single qualifier. Any momentum carried forward from qualifying, however, has been lost as South Korea suffered back-to-back defeats in their final two warm up games against Belarus (1-0) and Spain (1-0). Before that, though, they did record some smart victories over Ecuador and Ivory Coast, so it’s a case of whether you think the glass is half-full or half-empty. They were mighty unfortunate to lose their last encounter though, with an 85th stunner from Jesus Navas denying the Koreans what would have been a momentous draw with the reigning European champions, and favourites for South Africa 2010, Spain.

Korea Republic aren’t consistent enough with their displays for us to even consider the Koreans pulling up trees like they did eight years ago, but they remain one of those jack-in-a-box countries in that on the day you just don’t know what you’re going to get. At times they can appear ordinary while the next they’re pushing the big teams close in a tense 90 minute encounter. The one notable thing we have noticed with South Korea is their ability to raise their game for the crunch games. They’ve also had a tendency to enjoy their underdog status and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise were they to qualify from Group B, while we wouldn’t batter an eyelid were they to overcome an average Greece on Saturday.

 

Greece

Greece shocked Europe when lifting the UEFA European Championship trophy aloft at Portugal in 2004 against all odds. Despite their EURO 2004 triumph, Greece aren’t considered a major player in South Africa, or a player of any sort according to bookmakers, with the Greek’s, led by a Greek footballing God in German Otto Rehhagel, as big as 250/1 with totesport. Six years on from their turbulent and unforgettable finals in Portugal, can they spring another shock only this time on the biggest stage of them all?

Greece weren’t exactly impressive during qualifying, needing a play-off with Ukraine in order to seal their berth into South Africa. Their group was hardly taxing, coming up against teams such as Israel, Latvia and Switzerland, and they were the tough teams they had to face. Despite the generous group they were handed, Greece made a meal of qualifying and even finished second behind a Switzerland team we simply don’t rate in the slightest, so to say it doesn’t bode well for Greece is putting it lightly.

The one factor I will say is positive about Greece, and has been an ever present feature under Otto Rehhgal, is they’re awkward and resilient and often a tough side to break down. They set up in such a defensive manner that they rarely concede more than two goals in any one game. It was one of the reasons, the only reason in fact, why Greece were so successful back in 2004, as their rock-solid defence enabled them to grow in confidence with every passing minute that they didn’t concede against a superior nation, and then all it took was some clinical piece of finishing at the other end, or a slice of luck, to see Greece reign victorious. This, what we deem a negative approach to games, was used at EURO 2008 but everyone knew what they were now getting with Greece.

Greece are exposed heading into the finals as opponents now know they’ll need to remain patient and wait for a chance to arise instead of falling into their trap and overcommitting. Rehhagel needs to mix it up a bit, avoid falling into this ‘predictable’ bracket. Looking at their squad, it’s difficult to see them changing their ways. If they are to make the perfect start in Group B, a group which Greece forward Georgios Samaras has already conceded to Argentina, they’ll need their forwards, Samaras included, to put away their chances when they do arise. Greece themselves play a patient game, often passing teams to death, so chances will be few and far between. It’s down to Samaras, Salpingidis and Theofanis Gekas, who top scored with 10 goals during qualifying, to find the net else they’ll be relying on a long range effort from Karagounis and Katasouranis.

 

Match Odds:

Korea Republic – 3.00 Bet365
Draw – 3.20 SkyBet
Greece – 2.75 Coral

 

Our Prediction: South Korea to WIN – 3.00 Bet365

We suspect the draw will be a popular punt with many a punter, and we wouldn’t mock any one for sitting on the fence with this contest, but in a bid to steer well clear of the famous old wobbly fence we’re having a few quid on the Koreans winning their opening Group B encounter against a Greek team we believe is too weak in the final third of the pitch.

Greece will take the familiar path of setting up in a very solid and resolute formation, making it as difficult as possible for South Korea to break them down. When they get it right, Greece are extremely tough to get past and they’ve proven on many occasion that they can keep out the best of sides, so South Korea shouldn’t be a problem. However, in terms of the more entertaining and attractive football, it’s going to come from the South Korea corner. They’re energetic, have great tenacity and their sprite movement in the forward third of the pitch could see them pinch a win in Port Elizabeth. Considering we don’t see Greece scoring too many, if any, it may only take one piece of magic for South Korea to head home back to camp the happier party.

Our Recommenced Bet: Korea Republic to WIN to NIL – 5.50 SkyBet




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