Mexico and South Korea meet in their second outing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but who are the three players worth keeping a closer look on?
Group E of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was blown wide open after Mexico’s shock win over defending champions Germany last week. But, El Tri now have the chance to possibly confirm their place in the Round of 16 a game in advance, when they meet South Korea at Rostov Arena on Saturday.
While Mexico are now the firm favourites to top Group E, South Korea could have something to say about that as they look to get back on track after their 1-0 loss to Sweden. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at three players who can leave their mark the most on Saturday.
South Korea were always going to be second favourites against Sweden in their opening game. But, they were alarmingly listless in the final third, which only piled on the pressure on the defenders, who didn’t exactly look up to the task either.
But, Cho Hyun-woo was inspired between the sticks, ultimately sparing the Taegeuk Warriors’ blushes. Nicknamed “Dae-hair” back in his homeland – you guessed it right, to sound similar to a certain David de Gea – the 26-year-old certainly produced moments and stops that the Spaniard is renowned for.
Mexico will provide a bigger threat than Sweden did, which will only end up piling on the burden on Cho. But, if he manages to reproduce his heroics against Juan Carlos Osorio’s men, the South Korean No. 1 will certainly give his side some sort of a chance to get their first point on the board.
Mexico ran Germany ragged in their opening game as Germany became the third successive defending champion to lose their first game of the subsequent tournament. But while the bulk of the spotlight was on Hirving Lozano, and rightly so, there was another player who was quietly making a lot of impact.
Miguel Layun, who was deployed in an advanced role on the right flank, seemed to still have oodles of energy left when the full-time whistle blew, despite practically never stopping to catch a breath in the game as Marvin Platternhardt endured a horrific World Cup debut.
The Sevilla man constantly kept on avoiding his marker to get into dangerous scoring positions. Having taken five shots in the game though, finishing is one aspect of his outing that he will like to address. If he does so, El Tri could have another hero to look upon on Saturday.
A lot has been made about the enormous burden that a certain Mohamed Salah has been carrying on his shoulders for Egypt. A player who is in the similar boat, albeit without getting nearly as much recognition is Son Heung-min, who has been one of the very very few positives during a tough time for the National Side in world football.
However, after a 1-0 loss to Sweden, South Korea are just one loss away from taking an early flight back home, and the Tottenham man will need to do much better than he did last weekend. Against Sweden, Son had no shots, let alone them being on target, and made just a couple of key passes.
A similar performance from the 25-year-old will be like a death knell for South Korea, who are looking for inspiration from every nook and corner of the side without much success. It’s now or never really for Son, if the Taegeuk Warriors are to get out of Group F.