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South Korea World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

South Korea World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections article feature image
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Pictured: Heung-Min Son.

  • South Korea heads to the World Cup with expectations after a decent outing in 2018.
  • Can Heung-Min Son lead his team to the knockout stages?
  • Read on for a tactical analysis of South Korea as well as rosters, a schedule and more.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network’s staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of South Korea ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

South Korea World Cup Preview

South Korea do have some nice history in the World Cup, making the semifinals as the host nation in 2002 and making the Round of 16 in South Africa in 2010. They’ve failed to progress past the group stage in the last two World Cups, but they potentially have a path to get there in this tournament. 

Everything with South Korea revolves around their star man Heung-Min Son. Son is one of the best wingers in the world, showing it in the English Premier League and also for his country during World Cup Qualifying. Son led his country to a first place finish in their qualifying group and only one loss throughout all of World Cup Qualifying. 

In 16 matches, South Korea created 33.1 xG and only allowed 11.2, which is incredibly impressive, but you have to take it with a grain of salt because the only two countries they played in the Action Network’s Top 100 were Iran and Iraq. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 7.74% +1000
Advance To Knockout Round 32.17% +225
Win World Cup 0.20% +25000
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

There is more talent on their squad outside of Son. Wolves striker Hee-Chan Hwang gives the South Koreans a dependable goal scoring option other than Son, even if Hwang has been struggling to find his form in the English Premier League. In 10 appearances during World Cup Qualifying, he had three goals and four assists. 

They also have an outstanding center back in Napoli’s Min-Jae Kim, who is only 25 and playing in his first season in one of Europe’s big five leagues. However, he’s already averaging 3.25 tackles + interceptions per 90 minutes and is a big reason why Napoli’s defense is only allowing 0.78 xG per 90 minutes in Serie A this season. 

The midfield is a big question mark for South Korea, especially going up against the type of midfield talent in this group with the likes of Thomas Partey, Federico Valverde, Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes. 

With that being said, South Korea do have the attacking talent to give every single team in this group problems, so they may be a dark horse candidate to get out of this group. 

Key Player: Heung-Min Son

Son has shown for years that he’s not only one of Tottenham’s best players, but that he’s one of the best attacking players in the world. He tied Mo Salah for the Premier League Golden Boot with 23 goals last year. The two seasons before that, he combined for 28 goals and 20 assists. 

His ball progression, penalty touch and box entry numbers are never going to be up there with some of the other elite wingers in the world because of Antonio Conte’s system at Tottenham. But a 0.72 xG + xAssist rate per 90 minutes is among Europe’s elite. You also won’t find someone more accurate from outside the box, as Son has scored an incredible 19 goals from outside the penalty area since he joined Tottenham. 

Son is used to playing in a low block and getting out on the counter in Conte’s system, which should fit in well at this World Cup and given the back lines that he’s facing.

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Tactical Analysis

Paulo Bento has been in charge of South Korea since after the World Cup in 2018, so we have a pretty good idea of how they are going to play. 

They have deployed a 4-4-2 in the past with Son and Hwang as a striking duo, but given the personnel, it’s more likely that he will play a 4-2-3-1. 

South Korea play direct and aggressive. They love to get the ball moving forward at a rapid pace on the counter, whether it be long balls or combination passes. Their forwards are always prepared to make runs in behind the last line of defense, and they punished defenses throughout World Cup Qualifying, averaging 2.05 xG per match. Bento allows Son a lot of freedom to roam the pitch and drop deep to receive the ball so he supplies the attacking line with line-breaking passes. 

Out of possession, South Korea love to play with a ton of intensity; whether it’s pressing the opponent when they enter their final third or counter pressing trying to win the ball back after losing possession, you better be ready to move the ball quickly against South Korea. They averaged 63.6 ball recoveries in their own final third during World Cup Qualifying, which is one of the highest marks of anyone in the World Cup.

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South Korea World Cup Schedule

Opponent Day/Time
Uruguay 8 a.m. ET, Nov. 24
Ghana 8 a.m. ET, Nov. 28
Portugal 10 a.m. ET, Dec. 2

Most Recent World Cup Result

Third Place, Group Stage (2018)

South Korea weren’t expected to do much at the World Cup in 2018, but they were able to salvage a positive experience with an upset victory over Germany in their last match of the group stage. It wasn’t enough to progress, but it created an amazing memory for the nation.


South Korea World Cup Roster

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