South Korea hopes to rebound from a dismal performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup as they prepare to make their ninth straight tournament appearance since 1986. One of the host nations for the 2002 World Cup, South Korea made their best-ever showing in that edition of the tournament, advancing as far as the semifinals before falling to Germany by a 1-0 score.
The South Koreans have been unable to duplicate that success in subsequent World Cup appearances, advancing past the group stage just once, in 2010, and failing to record a win while finishing last on the Group H table four years ago at Brazil 2014.
South Korea’s Odds to Win World Cup: +40000
Pegged at No. 61 on the FIFA World Ranking, South Korea enjoyed a solid run in AFC World Cup qualifying. But a less than advantageous World Cup draw has left the Red Tigers with the daunting task of facing Germany and Mexico in the group stage, and has them near the bottom of the World Cup odds at +40000.
South Korea has also endured inconsistency since clinching a berth at Russia 2018, including a pair of losses in recent friendlies against Poland and Northern Ireland, but ended a two-year winless streak in football matches on European soil earlier this year with victories in friendly matchups with Moldova and Latvia.
South Korea’s Odds to Win Group F: +2000
South Korea will face a pair of old World Cup foes as they open this year’s tournament as distant +2000 long shots on the odds to finish atop the Group F table. The Red Devils’ best chance of posting their first World Cup match victory since 2010 will likely come in their group stage opener on June 18, when they battle Sweden as +260 underdogs.
The South Koreans have played Sweden to a draw in each of their past two meetings. The squad also owns a solid 2-2-1 record in five dates with Mexico since dropping a 3-1 decision to El Tri in group stage action at the 1998 World Cup, and sits as a +250 bet to advance past the group stage at this year’s tournament.
The Red Devils also tallied a 3-1 win over Germany when the two sides last met in friendly competition in 2004, but they own a 0-0-2 win-draw-loss record in two previous World Cup dates with the European powerhouse.
In the event that South Korea manages to claim one of the top two spots on the Group F table, things will get no easier in the Round of 16, where they would face one of the sides advancing from Group E, which includes World Cup co-favorites Brazil and sixth-ranked Switzerland.
South Korea’s Best World Cup Bets
Recent contests involving South Korea have tended to be high-scoring affairs, with the Red Devils and their opponents combining to score three or more goals in eight of their past 12 matches, and at least six total goals on six occasions during that stretch.
That trend also extends to South Korea’s most recent World Cup appearances, with the goal total averaging 3.28 in seven matches since 2010. If those trends continue at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it could provide opportunities in totals betting during group stage action, with the total in two of South Korea’s three matches set at 2.0.
While the Red Devils face an uphill battle to advance past the group stage, they also maintain intriguing +330 odds to see their tournament end in the Round of 16.
South Korea’s Players to Watch: Son Heung-Min, Hwang Hee-Chan
Attacker Son Heung-Min provided plenty of offense for the Red Devils during AFC World Cup qualifying, scoring seven goals in 12 appearances, and is also coming off a solid season of soccer with Tottenham Hotspur, tallying 12 goals in 37 Premier League matches and adding four markers in seven UEFA Champions League contests with the Spurs.
Hwang Hee-Chan has made a name for himself in three seasons with Salzburg of the Bundesliga, scoring 17 times over the past two seasons. The 22-year-old was part of the South Korean squad that reached the final of the AFC U23 championship, and will be making his World Cup debut at Russia 2018.
South Korea’s Road to Russia
South Korea dominated during the second round of AFC World Cup qualifying, outscoring opponents by a 27-0 margin during an 8-0-0 run to the top of the Group G table. The Red Devils faced a far tougher road in the third stage of qualifying, posting just two wins in their final seven matches, but clinched a World Cup berth with a second-place finish on the Group A table, seven points back of Iran.
|1||Kim Seung-gyu||GK||Vissel Kobe||32|
|21||Kim Jin-hyeon||GK||Cerezo Osaka||14|
|23||Cho Hyun-woo||GK||Daegu FC||5|
|2||Lee Yong||DEF||Jeonbuk Hyundai||26|
|3||Jung Seung-hyeon||DEF||Sagan Tosu||6|
|4||Oh Ban-suk||DEF||Jeju United||2|
|5||Yun Young-sun||DEF||Seongnam FC||5|
|12||Kim Min-woo||DEF||Sangju Sangmoo||18|
|14||Hong Chul||DEF||Sangju Sangmoo||14|
|19||Kim Young-gwon||DEF||Guangzhou Evergrande||51|
|20||Jang Hyun-soo||DEF||FC Tokyo||49|
|6||Park Joo-ho||MID||Ulsan Hyundai||35|
|8||Ju Se-jong||MID||Asan Mugunghwa||10|
|15||Jung Woo-young||MID||Vissel Kobe||28|
|16||Ki Sung-yueng||MID||Swansea City||100|
|17||Lee Jae-sung||MID||Jeonbuk Hyundai||33|
|22||Go Yo-han||MID||FC Seoul||19|
|7||Son Heung-min||FWD||Tottenham Hotspur||65|
|9||Kim Shin-wook||FWD||Jeonbuk Hyundai||48|
|11||Hwang Hee-chan||FWD||Red Bull Salzburg||13|
|18||Moon Seon-min||FWD||Incheon United||2|