El Tri put in a stunning opening performance in Group F last week, their bravado and desire gaining requisite reward through exciting PSV Eindhoven winger Hirving Lozano’s fine finish.
This stands in contrast to the sorry Taeguk Warriors. They failed to register an attempt on target against Sweden, who inflicted a 1-0 defeat thanks to centre-back Andreas Granqvist’s second-half penalty.
Here are the key battles ahead of Saturday’s clash at Rostov Arena:
KIM YOUNG-GWON V JAVIER HERNANDEZ
Kim will need to put in a shift if he is to contain the ubiquitous ‘Chicharito’.
The striker ran himself into the ground in order to secure the famous 1-0 victory against Germany. Hernandez unsettled the feared Mats Hummels-Jerome Boateng axis with his incessant running and laid on winger Hirving Lozano’s goal, draining the tank so much that he broke down in tears upon the final whistle.
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Kim faced a more orthodox threat from Sweden centre forward Marcus Berg. Worryingly, he responded with just one aerial won and no tackles made.
These are figures that spell doom if repeated against El Tri.
SON HEUNG-MIN V MIGUEL LAYUN
Another key task awaits new Sevilla loanee Layun.
Comfortable on either flank and as either a full-back or winger, his varied skills were seen in full effect against the World Cup holders.
From the right wing, he produced one tackle, interception and clearance to nullify the influence of Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Julian Draxler. He was then a key cog in his side’s rapid counter-attacks, completing four of six long balls and making two key passes.
South Korea star Son was devastated by his ineffectual Sweden display that contained zero attempts. Even if his influence at international level has waned, a player of his quality is unlikely to be so ineffectual once again.
LEE JAE-SUNG V HECTOR HERRERA
A mouthwatering battle in centre midfield could decide this contest.
Lee has grown into one of Asia’s better footballers, winning the 2016 AFC Champions League with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and growing into a key man for his nation. At 25-years old, a growing maturity will be put to the test by Herrera.
The 28-year-old is the finished product. He was nothing short of inspirational for Porto last season, wearing the captain’s armband and inspiring a first Primeira Liga title since 2012/13.
Against Germany, he had the most dribbles (five) and his eight tackles was five more than any team-mate. Another all-round display will have South Korea rattled.
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