On the back of their unexpected victory over Germany, Mexico can take a big step towards qualifying for the World Cup knockout rounds by repeating the trick against South Korea in Rostov on Saturday (11am ET).
Mexico surprised the World Cup holders with a superb performance in Moscow. Juan Carlos Osorio’s plan was applied to perfection by his players, who had a couple of nervy moments late on but could have won by more than Hirving Lozano’s first-half strike.
Osorio’s side did a good job of disrupting Germany’s build-up play, with Carlos Vela diligent in keeping close tabs on Toni Kroos, Germany’s primary pace-setter in midfield. And whenever the ball was turned over, Mexico advanced rapidly and incisively, with neat layoffs and good movement. Better choices and finishes could easily have yielded further goals.
It was an impressive display and one that, at least temporarily, silenced a number of Osorio’s critics in the Mexican press. The most important thing is that the players have always supported him, with Miguel Layun quick to highlight the quality of his preparation work in the aftermath of the victory. He has instilled in them a determination to seek victory.
Mexico will have to avoid getting ahead of themselves, but the win has given them a very good chance of not only progressing from their group but also of topping it. The latter will be their aim, given that it would potentially see them avoid Brazil in the first knockout round – the stage at which Mexico have been eliminated in each of the last six World Cups.
Victory over South Korea on Saturday would leave Mexico on six points and mean that only goal difference, if Germany were to defeat both Sweden and South Korea and Sweden were to defeat Mexico on the final match day, could possibly rob them of a place in the last 16. It is a result they should be confident of getting against relatively weak opponents.
South Korea had some struggles in qualifying for Russia 2018, with three wins, four draws and three defeats in their final group seeing them finish five points shy of group winners Iran and just two clear of Syria and Uzbekistan in third and fourth respectively. Their form coming into the tournament has been no better. Their 0-1 defeat to Sweden in their World Cup opener on Monday was their fifth in their last seven internationals.
Shin Tae-yong’s side caused very few problems for the Sweden defence, despite the presence of Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min amongst their forward line. The pace of Hwang Hee-chan was an occasional threat, but they rarely looked like turning things around once their opponents converted a VAR-awarded penalty to go ahead just past the hour mark.
Shin afterwards expressed frustration at his side’s inability to impose themselves on the game and quipped that the Sweden goalkeeper “probably became bored.” His team were a little bit more fluid once former Barcelona academy player Lee Seung-woo entered the pitch with twenty minutes or so left to play, and he could be in line for a start on Saturday as Shin seeks a formula capable of overcoming “formidable” opponents.
Mexico are rightly the American online bookmakers’ favorites, but they won’t be taking South Korea lightly. Midfielder Andres Guardado has spoken of the importance of not underestimating their opponents, whose ability to press as a unit and move forward quickly once possession is won was not in evidence against Sweden but is something that Mexico will have to be well prepared for on Saturday.
Unprepared is certainly not something that Osorio can usually be accused of and he is sure to have a plan in mind. Mexico showed against Germany that they have the necessary pace in attack and lung power in midfield to play an intense press-and-break game; whether that will be quite as effective against South Korea remains to be seen.
Regardless, Mexico should have enough quality to overcome their out-of-form opponents. A quick start should send them on their way to a victory that would put them within touching distance of the last 16.
Our Preview’s Mexico vs South Korea Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
With that fast start in mind, we like the look of this pick for our Mexico vs South Korea prediction:
- Bet on Mexico -0.5 goals to win the first half @ +130 with Bovada.