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2019 U20 World Cup Preview: South Korea vs Argentina

After beating South Africa 1-0, South Korea go into their final group game most likely needing at least a point in order to progress to the knockout stages of the Under-20 World Cup. Their opponents Argentina have two wins from two after beating Portugal 2-0 in their second game. K League United’s Korean national team correspondent Steve Price talked to Peter Coates from golazoargentino.com about the upcoming match.


Steve asks, Peter answers


Steve Price: How did Argentina get on against South Africa and Portugal? What went right and what went wrong?

Peter Coates: There are really few negatives to take away for Argentina so far as it has been a pleasantly surprising start to the World Cup. South Africa were limited opposition and it looked as though La Albiceleste were able to win at something of a canter but the real test came against Portugal and Argentina once again came through that one to secure qualification.

The attack, particularly the dynamic trio of Ezequiel Barco, Julian Alvarez and Adolfo Gaich look a real handful and should cause problems for any defense in the competition and while the defense looked a little shaky against South Africa, it was a far better display against Portugal.

SP: How are Argentina likely to play against Korea. What tactics and formation are they likely to use?

PC: There are unlikely to be many changes in terms of approach but with Argentina already guaranteed a place in the last 16 and captain Nehuen Perez suspended, Fernando Batista will make changes. Maxi Centurion will start in central defense and no doubt there will be changes to the attack to keep certain players fresh for the knockout stages.

SP: Which Argentina players should fans look out for? Who is likely to be a star in the future?

PC: Depending on whether he is rested or not, Ezequiel Barco has proved the player to watch so far. The Atlanta United playmaker was outstanding for Independiente back in 2017 and looked destined for stardom but that momentum has slowed somewhat since adapting to life in MLS. Barco is now showing what all the fuss was about once again and if he starts against Korea, will be who Argentina look to for creativity.

Adolfo Gaich has also shown just how effective he is as the number nine and after coming off the bench against South Africa to score, the big San Lorenzo striker netted the winner against Portugal. Physically powerful but well-rounded, Gaich leads the line wonderfully and allows those around him to flourish.

Peter asks, Steve answers


Peter Coates: How did South Korea get on against South Africa and Portugal?

Steve Price: In both games, Korea started slow but came into the game more in the second half. Against South Africa, all of Korea’s best goal-scoring opportunities, including Kim Hyun-woo’s headed goal and Jeong Ho-hin’s shot that hit the crossbar, came in the second half, while South Africa’s best attacks mainly came from set plays in the first half. Korea’s biggest problem going forward seems to be getting their shots off without them being blocked. Four of Korea’s nine efforts against Portugal and 11 of their 21 attempts against South Africa were blocked by defenders, suggesting their buildup play is a bit slow and perhaps predictable. Korea’s backline also looked shaky against Portugal, but has only conceded one goal so far this tournament.

PC: How are Korea likely to play against Argentina?

SP: Korea used three at the back against Portugal but then opted for a 4-2-3-1 against South Africa. They may be tempted to go for a cautious approach against Argentina, who have scored 7 already this tournament, but at the same time, goals scored could be important for the ranking of the best 3rd place sides, so being too cautious could be counterproductive. Luckily for Korea, by the time the match kicks off, they will know exactly what they have to do to qualify for the knockout stages.

PC: Which Korean players should fans look out for?

SP: FC Liefering’s Kim Jung-min is key to Korea’s midfield and is a strong prospect for the future, having already been involved with the senior national side and under-23s. Valencia’s Lee Kang-in will be hoping to put his mark on this tournament. He struggled to make an impact against Portugal but was more involved in the South Africa game. Korea could do with a big performance from him to unlock the Argentina defense. Up-front, FC Seoul’s Cho Young-wook will be looking to open his account for the tournament after being a bit underwhelming so far.

South Korea Under-20s’ match against Argentina kicks off at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, Korea time

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